Why are truck drivers so important

Truck driver magazine

Thousands of truck drivers are missing in Germany. The Federal Employment Agency confirms the shortage of skilled workers.

What poses major problems for companies in the transport industry is now official.

Five Tips on How to Use the Right Strategy to Find Good Drivers!

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Recognition of the foreign professional qualification is a prerequisite for the immigration of skilled workers from third countries. The Federal Ministry for Education and Research is responsible.


Since December 2018, the job of a truck driver has met the criteria of a skilled labor shortage, and in September 2019 the corresponding entry was made in the so-called "positive list". This list of shortage occupations is published twice a year by the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Professions are included here that take significantly longer to fill vacancies than usual. In purely mathematical terms, this means that for every 100 vacant truck driver jobs, fewer than 200 unemployed are registered or the unemployment rate in this occupational group is below 3 percent. In the following article we explain the background and show possible ways out of the crisis.

So it goes on:

What poses major problems for companies in the transport industry is now official.

The recruitment of truck drivers is made easier

The late inclusion in the "positive list"

Too few truck drivers - a problem that has been known for many years

From helper with a truck driver's license to qualified specialist

There are good reasons for the truck driver shortage

The number of training is increasing - at a low level

Finding qualified drivers with the right strategy

The top 5: This is how job advertisements work successfully

The competition from the Eastern Bloc has changed the market significantly

Avoid the shortage of skilled workers with truck drivers from third countries

The solutions to the driver shortage are on the table.

The recruitment of truck drivers is made easier

To make it easier for employers to hire qualified truck drivers from non-EU countries in the future, the regulations on regulated immigration will be relaxed. The new skilled immigration law will come into force on March 1, 2020. For example, there is no priority check, employers no longer have to prove that there is no domestic worker for the vacancy. The demands on German language skills will be reduced and certificates will be recognized less bureaucratically.

The late inclusion in the "positive list"


The fact that the profession of driver was only included in the positive list last year despite the blatant shortage of drivers is due to the calculation method used by the Federal Employment Agency. The bottleneck analysis is based on the agency's statistical data and takes into account the notified positions and the registered unemployed and Job seekers. However, many freight forwarders have not reported their vacancies to the agency, as this method of recruiting has rarely been crowned with success. It must therefore be assumed that only one vacancy was reported to the agency for 10 truck drivers sought because the companies did not believe in a successful placement. This behavior by the hauliers meant that the full extent of the driver shortage could not be statistically recorded for many years.

Too few truck drivers - a problem that has been known for many years

The problem has existed for more than 20 years, the current situation was more than predictable. The Federal Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (DSLV) and the Federal Association of Freight Transport, Logistics and Disposal (BGL) estimate that there are currently between 45,000 and 60,000 drivers missing. At the same time, the demographic change is particularly evident in this job description: The BGL expects that over 25,000 drivers will retire annually in the next few years.

A wide variety of measures to improve the situation have been discussed for years, but little has changed. Always faster, always cheaper - the pressure on the entire transport industry is enormous. However, in view of the increasing transport performance - especially due to the ever increasing online trade - there is a risk of enormous economic damage if action is not taken immediately. The truck driver shortage has already become a major economic risk for many companies.

From helper with a truck driver's license to qualified specialist

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The image of truckers experiencing endless freedom and wild adventures on lonely roads is a pure cliché. The reality is completely different. Day-long tours with tight deadlines separate many truck drivers from their families. They ensure full shelves in the supermarkets, but at the same time they are a disruptive factor on the autobahn and thus experience a lack of appreciation among the population. Last but not least, the low pay is a major contributor to the driver shortage. Although driver wages have risen in recent years and some companies are offering special bonuses, massages and fitness rooms, cars and cell phones for private use, the wage level is still in the lower range. But the main problem is, as a truck driver survey showed - the bad image of this professional group.

It is time for a fundamental change in image, because the truck driver has long been much more than a driver. While 50 years ago a simple truck driver's license was enough to drive a fully loaded truck across Europe, the demands on the drivers have increased enormously. The training was expanded from two to three years in order to meet the increasing requirements of the legal situation, mechanization and digitization.

The truck driver shortage has "good" reasons

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In addition to the often low wages Truck drivers are faced with various other burdens. In the past, work was mainly limited to the essentials, namely driving. Today the reality is different. The staff for loading and unloading has been abolished in many places and relocated to the driver's field of activity.

The increased transport volume leads to more and more traffic and thus to more and more traffic jams. Most professional drivers are under one permanent time pressureto deliver the goods on time. This tight deadline leads to a careless driving style, which often leads to serious accidents.

Truck drivers, who not infrequently have to cope with a 60-hour week, are closed statutory driving and rest times Committed. But even here there is still no solution to a problem that has been known for years. Hundreds of them are missing Truck parking. Overtired drivers involuntarily exceed the permitted driving time in search of a resting place and in the end all too often the only option is (dangerous) game parking, far from a healthy meal and sanitary facilities.

Once a week there is one for the truck driver longer rest period required by law. Then he is not allowed to drive his truck for 45 hours. Although it is forbidden by law, most drivers spend the night in the sleeping area at the rest area. The suggestion by the Federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer, that this rest period should not be spent in the truck but in the hotel caused a lot of commercials. Just as there are generally too few parking spaces, there are certainly not enough hotels with available truck parking spaces. In addition, the drivers have the Responsibility for trucks and cargo and hardly dare to leave the vehicle unattended. Diesel theft, tarpaulin slitting and cargo theft are the order of the day.

Digitization and modern technology are also important achievements in the world of logistics companies. The other side of the coin: thanks to the equipment with GPS and telematics, the driver is practically transparent. The employees in the office can see where which truck is at any time, even the driving style of the driver is recorded.

The End of conscription has exacerbated the shortage. The abolition of compulsory military service in 2011 hit the transport industry hard because the Bundeswehr was the largest driving school in Germany. Every year between 10,000 and 15,000 young people take the opportunity to get their truck driver's license with the Bundeswehr - free of charge.

On your own, the truck driver's license costs just under 5,000 euros!


The number of training is increasing - at a low level


Another reason for the shortage of drivers is the lack of offspring. Here, too, the low training remuneration and the bad image of this job description are among the most frequently mentioned reasons. In addition, very young school leavers have to wait up to two years before they can finally drive trucks. According to the law, the driver's license can only be obtained at the age of 21, in training at the age of 18. However, most young people who are interested in training leave school at the age of 16. It is important here to bridge these two years sensibly and to make the salaries during the training more attractive so that potential professional drivers do not opt ​​for other professions. In some cases, small and medium-sized freight forwarders have come together and formed training alliances. Apprentices also go to other companies to get to know areas that cannot be offered in their own company.

The three-year training to become a professional driver is regulated in two ways and takes place in parallel at the vocational school and the training company. The total number of apprenticeship contracts rose by 7.7 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, but unfortunately the rate of dropouts, especially in the first year, is disproportionately high at 47.7 percent.

Finding qualified drivers with the right strategy


On the job market for qualified professional drivers, the supply regulates the demand. Good drivers can choose their job, dissatisfied drivers are usually willing to change at any time and just wait for the next better offer. Transport companies should take advantage of this fact. In the daily work of our target group-specific advertising portal LKW-FAHRER.GESUCHT.com we experience which nets have to be thrown out in order to get suitable driver staff. From our many years of experience we have the following "5 golden rules" which turn a job advertisement into a perfect job advertisement and with which up to 150 applications can be generated!


The top 5: This is how job advertisements work successfully

1. An accurate job description increases the chances of success significantly

"We are…" => The self-expression

"We are looking for…" => The job description

"We expect…" => The requirement profile

"We offer…" => The services offered

"We ask…" => The application modalities

2. A picture is worth a thousand words

Many truck drivers identify themselves with "their" truck, for this reason a vehicle photo should be included in every advertisement. Images attract special attention, especially on Facebook.

3. Apply without any hurdles

Online express forms enable an uncomplicated application process. The ten most important facts such as work experience, driver's license, desired salary, etc. the applicant answers with a simple click.

4. In tune with the times

Online job exchanges have replaced the advertisement in the newspaper, 95 percent of all truck drivers willing to change are looking for their new job (mobile) on the Internet. Target group-specific job exchanges naturally achieve the greatest success here.

5. Search and find

The so-called "Active Sourcing" addresses passively searching candidates who have stored their profile in an applicant exchange. As a rule, these drivers are still in a working relationship and are willing to switch to interesting job offers.


The competition from the Eastern Bloc has changed the market significantly

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There are many foreign drivers on Germany’s roads, especially from Eastern Europe. Drivers from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania drive for significantly less money than their German colleagues - but due to the lower cost of living at home, the payment is still largely attractive for foreign drivers.


But freight forwarders from the Eastern Bloc have also changed the industry extremely. The long-haul routes are now firmly in Eastern European hands. In the competition for tours in international long-distance transport, German haulage companies can no longer keep up; for German drivers, only short distances remain. A look into a German seaport shows that containers that have a long journey ahead of them are not picked up by German transport companies.

In order to avoid distortions of competition, foreign freight forwarders are only allowed to drive their tours within Germany under certain conditions and in a limited period of a few days, known in technical jargon as "cabotage". Unfortunately there are too few controls and too many loopholes in the system to prevent the ruinous price war through wage dumping of driver salaries.


Avoid the shortage of skilled workers with truck drivers from third countries

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The profession of truck driver is now officially a recognized shortage occupation. Qualified specialists can now easily obtain a residence and work permit in Germany. Affordable driver staff could be acquired in Bosnia, Serbia or the Ukraine and paid at German minimum wages. It remains to be seen whether opening up our labor market to drivers from third countries will contribute to solving the driver shortage. But it doesn't matter what nationality the truck driver will have on Germany's roads in the future. It is important that in the foreseeable future the grievances that have contributed significantly to the driver shortage in the past 20 years will urgently change.

The solutions to the driver shortage are on the table.

The causes of the truck driver shortage have been known to all those involved in the logistics industry for years. Now is the time to put the much discussed measures into practice.

1. Recognition by society

The bad image of the truck driver persists. The reasons? We only focus on those who misbehave in traffic, who populate the rest stops in neglected sweatpants and who ensure good ratings on relevant TV channels with fake stories. Most of them do an excellent job and ensure that the refrigerators are filled. It is the job of employers and associations to make this fact known to the general public.

2. Higher wages


The pressure in the transport industry is great, especially because Eastern European freight forwarders drive freight more cheaply due to lower wages. To keep up, German transport companies have often cut wages and hired cheaper drivers. But a rethinking is noticeable, wages are rising, albeit at a low level.

3. Appreciation by the employer


In times of driver shortage, employers should redefine the value of the professional driver. If you are desperately looking for drivers, you have to face them with respect. From this insight, various initiatives have now emerged that advocate rethinking within the industry. For example, the partners of "Fair Truck", www.fair-truck.de, have agreed on the following criteria:

• Appreciation and partnership
• better pay
• Qualification, safety, health
• Sustainability and the environment

4. Improve the parking situation


The need is great and the situation is getting worse and worse due to the increased transport volume. For many truck drivers, the nerve-wracking search for a place to stay begins after a strenuous day at work.


More secure parking spaces that can be booked in good time by the dispatcher or driver are urgently needed. There are some new proposals that are already being discussed in the Federal Ministry of Transport and the EU Commission. For example: Part of the solution lies with the haulage companies themselves. They often have space reserves on the company premises when their own vehicles are on tour. The necessary upgrade of the area in the amount of approx. 30,000 euros could be refinanced through parking fees. Possible funding from the federal government and the EU could be an incentive for implementation and a step towards solving problems.

5. Solve problems on the ramp


Long waiting times, bad treatment, unloading the goods, removing the film from the pallets, regular trouble with exchange pallets - the conditions at the loading ramps make the job of truck driver even less attractive.

The "German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) has the "9 golden ramp rules" Developed to make the truck driver's work at the loading ramp easier. In order to avoid permanent conflicts as far as possible, both the logistics industry and the retail sector are challenged:

  • Rule 1: Ensure sufficient capacity at the loading ramps
  • Rule 2: Have enough parking space available for waiting times and pre-processing
  • Rule 3: Ensure sufficient ramp opening times
  • Rule 4: Adhere to the agreed time window
  • Rule 5: Improve the flow of information
  • Rule 6: Ensure availability of exchange pallets
  • Rule 7: Clearly regulate responsibility for loading and unloading
  • Rule 8: Improve personal interaction
  • Rule 9: Improve the language skills of drivers and loading staff

    You can find the rules in great detail here: DIHK ramp rules

6. Face the future with further training


Digitization and technical progress have also found their way into logistics. Some processes - for example tours in the sea container port - can no longer be carried out without the appropriate technical equipment. Regular training courses support the driver in his daily work processes.

7. Rely on the next generation


Many of the prospective professional drivers are 16 years old when they leave school and are looking for an apprenticeship. Too young in the eyes of many entrepreneurs. It makes perfect sense to conclude an apprenticeship contract with a 16-year-old before deciding on another profession. In the dual three-year training, the trainee can start with the class B driving license at the age of 17, take driving lessons and take the exams. As part of his training, he can drive a 40 tonne vehicle at the age of 18.

Many young people are not even aware of the training content with the later varied tasks. For this reason, it is so important to revise the training and adapt it to the young generation and to provide detailed information about this profession in schools and training fairs.

8. Use the potential of migrants


The Federal Employment Agency and some job centers, in cooperation with driving schools, finance courses specifically aimed at migrants. The majority of the students come from Syria. Truck or bus drivers are trained within 6 months, giving them the prospect of earning a living for themselves and their families on their own.

The legal guidelines stipulate that IHK exams may only be carried out in German. So that the training does not fail due to a lack of language skills, the specialist vocabulary was created in bilingual vowel lists for learning and understanding, while the examination questions were translated into easily understandable German. A good initiative from which both sides benefit.

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