With the ongoing shortage of experienced truck drivers, fleets need to think outside the box to find ways to recruit drivers.
It is an uncontroversial, though sobering, fact that the country’s driver shortage continues. According to the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry is currently short about 35,000 drivers and estimates it will need nearly 240,000 more by 2020.
There are other professions that are facing even steeper worker shortages, including construction workers, home-health and personal-care aides, nurses, and software developers. While all of these groups have considerable worker shortages, many of them are projected to experience significant growth.
But truck driving isn’t projected to share in similar growth. Why not? Perhaps the most commonly asserted reason is pay—but there are other compelling reasons, including both the amount of training needed and being away from home for long periods.
The Shortage Factors
Pay and weeks away from home are just two of the many factors that are helping to perpetuate the driver shortage.
These factors include:
- Regulations: The new ELD Rule, which aims to limit the number of hours a driver can drive in a week, is having a number of unintended consequences , including the need for additional drivers because of the attenuated hours and the erosion of truckers’ traditional independence, which is fueling shortages.
- Demographics: Increasingly, new truckers have been skewing older — 45 years and up. On the flip side, while most states allow individuals to obtain a commercial driver’s license at 18, federal rules governing interstate commerce don’t allow drivers under 21 to operate in interstate trucking — which effectively limits their employability.
- Respect: While pay is certainly a motivating factor — no matter the profession — lifestyle, respect, and honesty are certainly factors that affect job satisfaction. Anecdotal evidence indicates that paying more alone won’t solve the shortage.
- Booming Economy: With the economy in growth mode, there’s an ever-increasing need to move goods. Without the ability to add enough drivers to compensate, fleets are using added trailer purchases to increase their capacity.
Combatting the Driver Shortage
The driver shortage is a result of a number of complicated factors that don’t have an easy solution. No matter the specific reason — pay, lifestyle, regulations — one thing is clear: Younger people just aren’t as interested in becoming truck drivers.
However, you don’t have to take the shortage lying down and accept it as just the way it is. There are a number of immediate ways you can fight your own driver shortage directly, including:
- Recruiting more women: It’s estimated that only 5-7% of commercial truckers are women. Employing more women makes sense for the bottom line. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2016, women accounted for only 1% of fatal large-truck crashes, and only 29% of fatal vehicle crashes of all types. A lower-risk profile is good for business.
- Recruiting returning veterans: There has been an initiative by the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association to recruit returning veterans, particularly those who may have driven large military vehicles during their overseas deployments — this is an untapped source of proven, reliable trucking professionals.
- Cultivating younger drivers: Some fleets have been developing cultivation programs to help train younger — under 21 — drivers to fully prepare them for rigors of interstate trucking by gradually starting with local delivery routes and progressing to more-demanding interstate routes over time. Throughout these programs, the younger drivers are mentored. For its part, Congress has introduced legislation to ease the age-related restrictions on interstate trucking. Cultivating younger drivers is a smart, long-term investment that will help your business grow.
Fleets can use technology to help monitor the satisfaction of their drivers throughout their careers. Retention Performer can help fleets monitor and manage their drivers’ satisfaction, and even identify drivers who may be at risk for leaving the company due to dissatisfaction — and take immediate action to keep them.