The driver shortage in America has been an ongoing problem for the transport industry. There are currently 35,000 trucking jobs that could be filled tomorrow and no one to take them. Because of the shortage, shipments are sometimes days late! What could be worse than shipments always going out late? Shipments being late because there is no one to take them. It is a transportation nightmare. Understandably, people are looking for answers and want a quick fix. However, before a problem can be fixed, the causes of it must be understood.
The causes of the driver shortage have been oversimplified. Many have sited the reason for the driver shortage to be an aging workforce. While the workforce is indeed aging, we are seeing that the aging workforce is only a small part of a larger problem. With 35,000 trucking jobs that could be filled tomorrow and no one to take them, it is clear there is a problem. Not only is this problem persisting, but it is getting worse! According to The American Transportation Research Institute, the shortage could grow to 240,000 by 2022. Holy moly that is a lot of trucking jobs! So what is causing this?
Schools failing to teach working skills- Many high schools no longer offer classes like shop. Kids who graduate high school may not even know how to change a tire, let alone have any marketable skills that can help them enter a trade immediately upon graduation. The exception to this hurdle could be trucking because is only requires a 6 weeks training course to start, but, the 21 years old age restriction makes it impossible for workers fresh out of high school to consider a career in trucking.
Fewer young people are considering blue collar careers- With a higher standard of living, more people are being pushed to attend college. College is toted as being the only gateway through which to earn a reasonable living. People are starting to set their sights on white collar careers. Those who do work blue are driven to careers in which they know they can:
Notably, these careers are welding, plumbing, construction, and landscaping. In an article written by Meredith Burns at Humanatoday.com, Billy Benoit was quoted as saying,
“[Welding is] like a blue-collar job but you can make white-collar money,” which sums up what young workers are looking for.
These careers have their own labor shortages, but none are as bad as the trucking shortage problem. According to The American Transportation Research Institute estimates about 35,000 trucker jobs that could be filled tomorrow if workers would take these jobs.
Recession Still a Problem: People are looking for a recession proof job. Traditionally, blue collar jobs are the most susceptible to economic upheaval. Paradoxically, the opposite has been proven to be true this time! White collar jobs are being flooded with recently graduated indebted workers. These workers are happy working for whatever they are offered, which is often not much. Meanwhile the trucking industries are looking for workers and often offer huge starting bonuses as incentive. The demand for trade workers is growing while the demand for office workers has been filled many times over. The disadvantage the trucking industry faces is the very nature of a job on the road. The largest disadvantage is being away from home for long stretches of time.
This brings us to the elephant in the room, the main reason that potential truck drivers won’t even consider a career in trucking-
The hours: Long hours, are a major put off to potential truckers. When faced with a driving schedule that may keep a driver away from their family for weeks or even months at a time, truckers often ask the same question: “how much more am I going to get paid for this than a job closer to home?” The answer is often “not much”. This is especially true if the driver is skilled in another trade. The hours are a huge turn off. For some families, trucking is only worth it if they are getting paid much better than they would if they worked closer to home.
Stricter Driving criteria– Driver’s health is scrutinized, their safety record has to be all but flawless and substance abuse tests are getting even more strict. Some companies are using hair samples to test for drug use instead of the standard urine sample. All of these things make it harder for drivers to enter the workforce.
Knowing why the workforce is dwindling may help you brainstorm ways to bring in new potential drivers and keep them happy. If brainstorming isn’t your thing, don’t worry, we have a few ideas up our sleeves. Look for our posting next week for ways to coax drivers back to driving.