India faces critical shortage of truck-drivers

Posted on Monday, October 25, 2010

The Indian Logistics Sector has been facing a critical shortage of experienced and trained drivers. A study done in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry says India's road freight segment would need nearly 51 million truck drivers by 2015. That’s a very steep figure. The study paper 'Skills Gaps in the Indian Logistics Sector' has estimated that currently India has only 3 million truck drivers for medium and heavy commercial vehicles. The logistic sector will not be able to handle this shortage as this sector is very crucial to business. This should give you a perspective on how serious this problem is. Suppose that if 50 per cent of all drivers in India are to be trained, almost 125 institutes of the size and scale of the existing one in Namakkal will be required in the next 7-8 years, says the paper.

There are some areas where skills are lacking. They include familiarity with warehousing formats (like WA and VNA compared to the prevalent ground storage), with modern equipment, with IT systems (WMS, handhelds, RFID), industry-specific stocking and handling practices, and practices around safety and security of stock, the paper notes.

Better skills will decrease India's spending on logistics, which at 13 per cent of GDP, is higher than the developed nations. The reason for this has to be relatively higher level of inefficiencies in the system, with lower average trucking speeds, higher turnaround time at ports and high cost of administrative delays. The shortage of drivers is a big problem and remedial measures should be taken so that driving long haul trucks can be looked at as a career option. These measures include better pay, health insurance, employee facility and good treatment of drivers. Compared to the west, trucking as a career, has not really taken off in India. For that to happen, a radical overhaul in thought and prevalent customs is required.

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