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Truckie shortage 'crisis' to hurt strained supply chain

Australian shoppers could soon face empty supermarket shelves as a shortage of truckies threatens the nation's supply chains.

About 26,000 more drivers are needed to fill gaps in the trucking industry as the sector faces shortfalls across all business sizes and types, according to the National Road Transport Association.

With NSW road freight requirements projected to increase 57 per cent by 2040, the association's chief executive Warren Clark has urged national cabinet to act now.

"This is not just a crisis for the trucking industry, it's a crisis for the national economy," he said on Wednesday.

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"The supply chain is the backbone of our economy, and without enough drivers, the entire system is at risk."

Trucks carrying shipping containers near Port Botany in Sydney
Half of the nation's truckies are approaching retirement age. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

According to an International Road Transport Union survey, almost half of all drivers are older than 55, which could exacerbate vacancy issues as this workforce nears retirement age.

Additionally, young people and women's participation in the sector is very low, with just 5.3 per cent of truckies under 25 and 6.5 per cent who are female.

Incentives are needed to make the industry more appealing to these under-represented demographics, while encouraging already in the sector to continue their careers, Mr Clark said.

This could include funding training programs, bolstering pathways into trucking, improving access to apprenticeships and improving overall work conditions by treating truckies with respect at customer depots and delivery sites.