Transport companies on the hunt for drivers: ‘Happy with 1 or 2 new ones’

“If you now have 30 truck drivers in front of me, I’ll have them all driving this week,” says Alex de Geest, transport manager at Melis Logistics in Duiven.

By comparison, the company now employs 165 drivers. “Equipment can be obtained, you can rent it if necessary, but finding new drivers is much more difficult,” says De Geest.

10,400 vacancies

There are now 10,400 job openings for drivers across the transport sector. In comparison, there are now about 91,000 truck drivers employed by a transport company.

The demand for drivers is largely due to an aging population: employees are retiring. The average age of drivers has recently increased. Ten years ago, only 17 percent of all drivers were 55 or older, now that is almost 25 percent.

Pieta Bekers, HR manager at De Klok Logistics in Nijmegen, can talk about the shortage of personnel in the sector. The company will soon hold a job fair and if that produces four or five candidates, that would be great.

Many candidates drop out

Not every candidate successfully completes his or her education. “If a third party makes it, then we already have a fantastic score,” said Bekers. A large part of the candidates stumbles over the theoretical part.

Statistically speaking, those four or five candidates therefore only produce one or two new drivers. “But the labor shortage is now so great that we are already happy with one or two people.”

Stationary truck costs money

It is important to find new drivers. After all, the economy is growing and so is the demand for transport. Demand is already above pre-corona levels.

It is an expensive joke if you do have trucks, but if they are standing still because there are not enough drivers. A truck combination easily costs about 750 euros per day, De Geest calculates.

One or two new drivers

De Klok now employs some 160 truck drivers and the company is looking for at least 15 to 20 new ones. Through its own campaigns, De Klok has already hired about 15 drivers this year, but due to retirement or relocation they have already lost about eight.

De Klok was therefore at a job fair in Nijmegen on Tuesday. This was organized by STL (Sector Institute Transport and Logistics), an organization set up by the social partners in the sector to ensure, among other things, the influx of staff.

This resulted in twelve candidates who are interested in the training program at the company. In about six months they are being groomed to become drivers, working four days and going to school one day.

“We were the only ones to give away a present, a power bank with chocolates,” says Bekers. “It’s noticeable.” But those twelve candidates will probably only produce about four new drivers.

“Sounds very cool to me”

One of the Melis Logistics candidates is Geke Gerritsen (21). She is now doing a health care education, but she also seems like a lot of fun to be a truck driver. She once went with a friend who is a truck driver and she thought, “This is really cool.”

She has already passed her driving license theory test. Now she wants to study for her practical exam. She saw on Instagram that there was an open day for people who want to become truck drivers and that’s how she came into contact with Melis Logistics.

Ultimately, she thinks it would be fun to also ride abroad, ‘but first in the Netherlands, to get to know the trade’. The start is there, today she calls Melis Logistics for an appointment to drive along.

To collaborate

Competitor Melis Logistics was more successful. “We had about 25 candidates and I think there will be at least five of them left who will work with us,” says De Geest.

This year, the company from Duiven has already added 20 drivers on balance. “But that’s not nearly enough.” One solution is to see whether they can combine shipments together with industry peers. So instead of both driving a half-full truck, together one full one, explains De Geest. “That used to be unmentionable.”

Another advantage is that by working together in this way you can supply some customers on a daily basis, according to De Geest. “And it’s better for the environment, too.”

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