Delays in processing work permits, converting non-EU driving licenses to Irish ones and issuing PPS numbers are contributing to the ongoing driver shortage crisis facing the Irish transport industry, according to the Freight Transport Association of Ireland.
The call for action from the industry lobby group, which met with members of the European Parliament last week to discuss challenges in the industry, comes months after the government lifted a cap on transport sector employment permits to alleviate skills shortages.
However, the FTAI has warned that despite the lifting of caps, bottlenecks remain.
According to the FTAI, which is led by Aidan Flynn, a member company has complained that drivers hired from South Africa who had already been granted work permits had waited six months and were still unable to complete the necessary training programmes begin to allow them to work. This is due to “major delays” in obtaining PPS numbers and exchanging foreign driver’s licenses, it said.
The FTAI said driver shortages remain a “major issue” for Irish hauliers and commercial fleet operators.
The group said the non-EU work permit regime needs to be streamlined to help reduce costs and burdens on industry.
The FTAI has also called for a system for recognizing Ukrainian licenses for trucks.
The call comes after the government announced last month that Ukrainians fleeing the war could now swap their Ukrainian driving licenses for an Irish one. However, this is only an acknowledgment for the “B” category – which includes passenger cars. It would like a system of immediate recognition of C and CE categories to help suitably qualified Ukrainians find work as professional drivers in Ireland and the EU.
The FTAI added that its members had received truck driver applications from Ukrainians.
The Department for Transport said once a Ukrainian driving license is exchanged for an Irish driving licence, a driver can apply for a higher category of driving licence, such as a heavy-duty vehicle driving licence, by applying in the usual way. This includes the need to train in Ireland.
The department said it has truck vehicle license exchange agreements with several non-EU countries, including South Africa. The National Driving License Service works with the relevant licensing authorities to verify the information received. However, there may be delays in reception
confirmation by these authorities.
The Department for Transport said the lorry driver shortage is not a problem unique to Ireland, but a
issue across Europe.
The enterprise ministry said it had implemented an action plan to reduce work permit processing times. The team has tripled in size, with the backlog expected to narrow further in the coming weeks.
The Department of Social Protection, which is responsible for PPS numbers, said it was working with employers and representative groups to expedite applications.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/long-delays-in-processing-irish-permits-adds-to-hgv-driver-shortage-crisis-41603757.html Long delays in processing Irish permits are contributing to the shortage of lorry drivers