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DHL Group offers job rotation to attract new drivers and fill in capacity gaps

DHL hopes plan will attract new recruits to industry as shortfall looms.

Deutsche Post DHL Group (XETRA: DPW) is recruiting new truck drivers in Europe with the pitch that they will not always have to drive.

The recruitment drive comes as the world’s largest freight forwarder by revenue faces an increasing driver shortage in its home market. Germany could see about 40% of its truck drivers retire over the next two decades, creating a shortfall of 150,000 drivers. The issue has come to a head this year as a severe drought strains Germany’s barge network and forces more freight back on the road.

This shortfall will be critically acute for DHL Freight, the truckload and less-than-truckload unit of DP DHL.

DHL Freight’s hiring drive might be seen as a variation on the “dock-to-driver” programs at U.S. LTL players, which offer warehouse workers an opportunity to become commercial drivers.

DHL Freight says it is not so much cross training warehouse workers to become drivers. Rather, it is looking to attract new drivers with the promise that they will have job rotation into warehousing and terminals roles in periods of slack capacity.

The drivers aim to fill in capacity gaps, particularly during the peak season. The drivers will focus on first-mile and last-mile deliveries to and from DHL Freight’s terminals.

“if the peak season is done, they will still have a safe, reliable position supporting people in the warehouses,” said DP DHL spokesperson David Stoeppler.

The scheme’s strategy is to smooth out DHL Freight’s capacity between busy and slack periods, Stoeppler. The drivers should also benefit from the program as they will be able to return home at night.

“You can offer people a job which on the one hand offers flexibility, and on the other, it allows them to get back home in the evening,” Stoeppler said.

As an asset-light freight forwarder, DHL Freight mostly relies on third-party capacity for LTL coverage. But Stoeppler says there is “simply not enough third parties to provide drivers and capacity.”

Starting with approximately 30 new employees hired this spring, DHL hopes to expand the program should the initial recruits show progress.

“It’s a not a change in our strategy, but it’s an additional solution to have this test project,” Stoeppler said. “If it proves right, we will expand and go for up to 500 drivers.”

To further attract drivers, DHL plans to invest in new, 12-ton trucks equipped turning assistant, and solar panels for powering ancillary equipment such as lift gates.

The additional investments come as the DHL saw 6.4% volume growth in its European overland transport business during the third quarter.

“It also underlines our confidence that the positive volumes in the market will continue,” Stoeppler said.

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.