How France plans to tackle its lorry driver shortage

France has laid out a plan to recruit more lorry drivers.
France has laid out a plan to recruit more lorry drivers. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP
Like many European countries, France is facing a shortage of skilled professions including lorry drivers, so the Prime Minister has announced a new funding package to address the problem.

The French transport sector says it has around 40,000 unfilled vaccancies, including for lorry drivers – a shortage of whom is being felt across Europe

In the UK this is is leading to empty shelves in supermarkets and shortages of fuel at petrol stations, and while these issues are not being felt in France, the sector says it is struggling to recruit.

On the other hand French unemployment levels are high – the PM says the solution is better training and has unveiled a €600m training package to ensure that around 1.4 million jobseekers can be retrained to fill vacancies.

The Plan d’investissement dans les compétences (skills investment plan) targets all sectors that are struggling to recruit, including hospitality, which has struggled to attract back workers since bars, cafés and restaurants reopened.

Alexis Degouy, director general of transport union l’Union Transport Logistique France, told FranceInfo: “We have more than 40,000 jobs on offer, and the Prime Minister’s announcements are welcome, because every time we bet on training, we are right.

“I would just add a small caveat, we must not centralise too much and especially leave it open to companies and regions.”

The investment plan as announced is threefold:

  • Small businesses – with between 50 and 300 employees – will be able to benefit from a €600m training fund to recruit and train up 35,000 new employees.
  • A €560m agreement will be created with Pôle emploi (unemployment benefits) offices, so that extra training courses can be available to all job-seekers, whatever their age or previous qualifications.
  • Individual support packages will also be created for young people who are not in employment, education or training.

Degouy added: “In our sector, it’s very clear, we are constantly looking for truck drivers, but also staff in the warehouses.

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“It’s a sector that offers many possibilities, and we’re looking for all profiles. It’s also essential to train the less young, those who are retraining.

“We must make this profession attractive. We often think that the hardest thing is to get employees to come, rather than to keep them. Today, the truck driver who spends several weeks far from his family is no longer really the case.”

He added that the profession had not waited for government action on the issue of wages and was already offering incentives for new drivers and to retain existing drivers.

Drivers in France already enjoy relatively good facilities with a network of stops with free parking, showering facilities and the Les Routiers restaurants that offer good quality but cheap hot food to drivers.

Despite the unfilled roles, deliveries by lorry are continuing in France and the country has so far not seen widespread shortages of food or fuel.

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