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Truck driver shortage: what’s the cause?

Truck drivers work day and night to supply stores. Wherever you drive on the highway, you see truck drivers driving. They cannot be missed in today’s economy. Yet there’s a significant shortage of truck drivers, but why is this?

Rising economy

It all starts with the rising economy of our prosperous country. According to a calculation by the CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics of the Netherlands), gross domestic product grew by 1.9% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter. This growth is mainly due to an increase in household consumption.

Thus, the increasing purchases of consumers require more supplies in the supermarkets. And this is where truck drivers come in. To meet consumer demand, more truck drivers are needed. At the moment there aren’t enough of them and this causes a shortage of drivers at transport companies.

According to Randstad Transport (Dutch employment agency), there are 18,000 vacancies for drivers across the country.

The impact of corona

In the second quarter of 2020, total retail sales increased by 5.9% compared to the second quarter of 2019. Consumers made more online purchases during the corona crisis than before. This is partly due to the government’s advice against shopping unnecessarily in the ‘physical’ stores from bricks and mortar. In addition to that advice, the various partial lockdowns also had an impact on rising online purchases. With the rise in online purchases, more drivers are needed to deliver the products to people’s homes. This has created more demand for drivers.

But even though the demand for drivers is increasing, the availability is not increasing, this is also one of the consequences of the coronapandemic. For example, in early 2021, no theory exams were allowed for four months and no practical exams for two months. This delayed truck drivers in training who wanted to obtain a drivers license from the CBR (Central Bureau for Driving Licenses).

Salary level

Truck drivers have a vital profession; they are crucial in keeping society running. After all, if supplies aren’t brought to the supermarket, consumers can’t shop. But what do you earn as a truck driver?

The job rating for truck drivers in the Netherlands goes up between pay scale B and E. According to the 2021/2022 CLA for professional goods transport, the gross monthly salary is between € 1,966 and € 3,015 per month. The amount of the gross monthly salary obviously depends on the exact activities that the truck driver performs. Think about whether you work abroad as a driver, whether you work overtime a lot and what you transport.

As a truck driver, you’ll end up on a scale in terms of salary. Are you a rookie driver? Then you’re in scale B and start at € 2,031 with an ultimate maximum of € 2570 gross per month.

For routine activities you are on scale C. This starts at € 2,119 and ultimately provides a maximum of € 2,681 gross per month.

For routes with more freedom and less simple tasks (also international), you’re in scale D at € 2,256 with a maximum of € 2,854 gross per month.

The last scale, E, is for chemical transport and starts at € 2,336 with a maximum of € 3,113 gross per month. Eventually you make periodic steps in the scales until you reach the maximum.

If you want to earn more money you have to transport other freight and get the required paper for it, or work more hours.

Most truck drivers find it necessary to work overtime to eventually make decent money.

Work-life balance

The work schedules of a truck driver are very diverse. For example, some work internationally and are away from home for 5 days and others only work evenings or weekends. Because of the irregular hours it’s sometimes difficult to find a balance between work and private life. If you have a family at home it’s often difficult to be away from home for a week.

According to the IRU (International Road Transport Union) report, therefore, only 7% of drivers are younger than 25. The average age is over 50 and only ¼ of the drivers are under 50.

The figures show that the influx of young people into the profession is low. The reason may be that young people find the basic salary disappointing. Do they want to earn more money? Then they usually have to drive internationally or on weekends. This is a major setback for the social life of a truck driver and therefore also a turn-off for many, including young drivers.


The cause of the driver shortage is mainly due to the low intake of younger truck drivers. According to the figures from the IRU report, it can be seen that ¼ of truck drivers are under 50 years old.

Also, for many, the salary of a truck driver isn’t a greasy spot. Want to earn more? Then it’s necessary to work overtime or earn extra with allowances such as driving abroad. A social disadvantage for many drivers if you’re away from home for one week, for example.

The corona pandemic has also thrown a spanner in the works recently. Online purchases have increased during coronacrisis and because there were no exams at the CBR for months, truck drivers in training had to wait months until it was their turn.

In short, the growing economy and online purchases have increased the demand for truck drivers. The influx of new drivers is stagnating partly due to low salaries and poor working hours.

Sources (in Dutch)