Opinion

Trucking Industry Brain Drain

trucking  industry brain drain

We need to realise we are suffering from a trucking  industry brain drain as we watch the number of notices about vehicle sales rise, as transport operations close and sell off their assets at extremely high prices.

The industry loses intellectual property, every time a trucking operation small or large, decides to close its doors. They send all the trucks, trailers and ancillary equipment to the auction, which means the stock of vehicles in the trucking industry does not fall, it remains the same, but the industry is losing people who know how to run trucking operations, who have the how know about how the system works. 

Of course, some of them will come back into the industry, those selling are not necessarily retiring or walking away, but many will be lost to the management of trucking fleets.

The problem is, many of these people, who are selling up their operations moving out of the industry or alternatively getting into financial trouble, are not necessarily disenchanted with the trucking industry. 

That is not the reason they are leaving. Probably the strongest influence on those operators who are moving out of the industry has been the unbelievably high second hand vehicle prices which have held strong at very high levels since the pandemic first hit.

There was a fear of a shortage of vehicles developing, and at the same time, the amount of work which needed to be done, remained high and continued growing. This meant that when an operation needed another vehicle or another set of trucks to do a particular job, they found the waiting list form all of the truck and trailer  manufacturers was getting longer and longer. 

Instead they turned to the second hand market, and when a large number of people go into a market who weren’t already there. Prices get driven up, fast.

Here we have a situation where there’s a white hot truck and trailer market, especially in the second hand side of the business. At the same time as a lot of operators are desperate not only for drivers but also for vehicles.

In this situation, quite a few truck operators would be sitting in their office looking out over the yard, and looking at the vehicles they currently have, and then looking at the latest prices that vehicles like theirs have been achieving in the auctions.

Upon realising that, in terms of asset value, their business’s value has never been higher, the next thought is a fairly rational choice, to decide to stop being a trucking operator, realise those assets and walk away from the industry.

Many of these operators are fully committed to the trucking industry, have a lot of knowledge and experience, and would love to keep going forever but when they look at the numbers, it’s almost irresistible.

So, we have a good enough stock of trucks. There are enough trucks available in the country to get most of the freight transport task done. Yes, we are struggling for drivers, but what we are losing, and will struggle for into the future, is operational management experience.

We will be losing a very high level of expertise from people who have been working on and developing trucking operations all over Australia. People used to handling different tasks, dealing with different types of customers in a wide variety of conditions.

This is probably something that industry can’t afford to lose. Genuine trucking knowledge is a finite resource. We can’t afford to lose a large number of the kind of people who have grown good trucking operations, especially in country areas, and handled the freight task in a way which has kept the industry diverse and the customers happy.

 

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