A severe scarcity of truck drivers inside the US has led the country’s largest corporations to seek drivers overseas, with South Africa seen as a key marketplace for that specific workforce.
With covid-19 related restrictions on visas and immigrational stricter policies affecting the import/export of labour, large corporations such as Walmart are currently offering drivers an $8,000 bonus, whilst British retailer John Lewis announced plans to raise wages by up to £5,000/year as the United Kingdom also begins to face shortages.
To tackle such impediments, the Biden administration has recently created a task force whose goal is to facilitate the inner workings of logistics and supply chain management. The US has been facing a continual decrease in the absolute number of available drivers for years, but the shortage has reached a critical stage due to the pandemic, when demand for shipped items skyrocketed while early retirements also rose in a similar proportion.
In 2019, the United States alone was estimated by the American Trucking Association to be in need of 60,000 drivers to meet current demand, with that number crossing the 100,00 barrier by 2023.
From the South African perspective however, this is not a new phenomenon. Many companies in the country actually specialise in outsourcing and hiring drivers for large corporations, mainly based in the US, Europe and the UK, a trend that has been seeing a hefty increase in recent months, when restrictions are being lifted in these markets.