The lack of specialists increasingly poses problems for Germany and the economy. Countless job vacancies cannot be filled because qualified personnel is missing. the same goes for transport logistics. For years, enterprises have desperately been looking for new employees. the shortage has become more and more noticeable in the area of professional drivers. A development we need to find a solution for as quickly as possible before the situation escalates.
Häffner GmbH & Co. KG´s own fleet includes 21 vehicles at the moment and is still a firm component of our business model. In order for this to stay that way, we do not wait for a solution throughout Germany set by the government but instead focus on what we can do ourselves so that we can offer attractive jobs to professional drivers. In addition, our logistics manager Ralf Nieß places great emphasis on strengthening the ties between employees ant the company as well as on education and training, in particular in the area of the transport of hazardous materials.
Top-Road Transport-Manager Ralf Nieß
The position of logistics manager is top-class at Häffner GmbH & Co. KG. Mr. Ralf Nieß started his career as a freight forwarding specialist, afterwards he graduated as a logistics specialist in freight traffic, and has already been awarded “Top-Road Transport-Manager” by the IRU (International Road Transport Union) in 2016. But that is not all. In addition, he is presidium member in the Federal Association for Economics, Transport and Logistics (Bundesverband Wirtschaft, Verkehr und Logistik, BWVL) as well as working in the transport commitee of the IHK Stuttgart and the BGA Berlin.
In a short interview he vividly explains the current challenges in the logistics sector and illustrates how Häffner GmbH & Co. KG successfully counteracts the lack of specialists in the transport logistics.
4 questions for Ralf Nieß
Question: How do you evaltuate the current state of the lack os specialists in the transport sector?
Mr. Nieß: The biggest problem regarding the lack of specialists is that more and more experienced professional drivers of last century´s baby boomer days retire without successors. At the moment we assume a deficit of about 40.000 specialists per year. This factalone shows that the lack of specialists has arrived already today.
Question: In your opinion, what are the main reasons for this development
Mr. Nieß: Unfortunately, the image of professional drivers during the last years is characterized by time pressure & stress as well as a lack of free time and frequent absence from one´s family. What´s more: the constantly rising volume of traffic. We have demonstrated for years though that it is possible for professional drivers to have a regular working day and spend the evening with friends and family. Via digital route planning that is as optimal aspossible we ensure that statutory driving and rest hours are being complied with. This serves in fact the relief of the driving personnel. We cannot change the traffic, nevertheless we can plan accordingly in an optimal way.
Question: Which measures has Häffner taken so far to counter the lack of specialists?
Mr. Nieß: We are following a two-pillar strategy for that: On the one hand, one aim is to strengthen the ties between employees ant the company and – at the same time – to win more and experiences professionals for our team. This is achieved through attractive remuneration, family-friendly working hours without night shifts or weekend work, an open, relaxed, and informal working atmosphere, and through our modern vehicle fleet with the newest safety technologies as well as all relevant comfort features. We put the greatest emphasis on our drivers being able to work in a refreshed and revitalized manner and that they are not drowning in permanent stress. After all, they are our company´s business card.
The second pillar is our own training of professional drivers including the specialization in the transport of hazardous materials.
Since 2002 we have developed this training over the years and extended it modularly. A trainee today passes several phases in various areas. In addition to the general cargo training they also get to know processes in the warehouse/storage and also actively take part in the work there. This is necessary in order to get a comprehensive picture for our special chemical products and in order to learn the handling of these goods while adhering to all safety regulations. On top of that there is the acquisition of the forklift license and the ADR certificate. As soon as the trainee passes these phases successfully, the training on the tanker verhilce follows. Of course, each and every one of these phases is being supervised and accompanied by experienced colleagues.
In accordance with the German Driver´s Qualification Act (BKrFQG)all drivers in the carriage of freight and passengers have to fulfil 35 hours of continuing training every 5 years. In order to comply with this requirement Häffner GmbH & Co. KG offers one module per yearfor all drivers according to BKrFQG)
Question: What conclusion would you make regarding the measures taken to date?
Mr. Nieß: We can see that the measures are effective and that our drivers feel comfortable here. This is also being continuously confirmed by customer satisfaction surveys as well as by direct feedback of colleagues in appraisal interviews.
Even with the lack of specialists being omnipresent and leading to complications and head scratching in many companies, Häffner GmbH is optimistic about the future. Our countermeasures make an impact and show success and lead to a high satisfaction among our professional drivers. Nevertheless, we are aware that standing still also means taking a step back. Therefore we are working daily on improving the working conditions for our employees as well as further improving the ties between them and the company. Because close synergies at eye level are the key to a long-term and sustainable cooperation.