The Trucking Industry Needs to Get Younger
A career in trucking can offer flexible hours, the opportunity to travel and meet new people from all walks of life. It is a change of pace from the routine office environment, and a profession that is in dire need of people. Such a career would seem enticing to the younger adults ranging from ages 18 to 35, referred to as millennials.
It is a known fact that the trucking industry has suffered a driver shortage for many years, however, as drivers from the Baby Boomer era begin to retire, the need for drivers is ever increasing. As of the beginning of 2019, the American Trucking Association estimated a driver shortage of approximately 60,000; a shortage that is causing shipping rates to increase, and consumers are paying the price.
Trucking’s Future is on the Next Generation
Millennials make up approximately 35% of today’s workforce and outnumber the Baby Boomers in population. It is estimated that within the next eleven years, millennials will make up approximately 75% of the workforce. Their numbers could certainly reduce the driver shortage in the trucking industry, but the reality is that fewer young people are choosing trucking as a profession. Why?
Recent Improvements in the Industry
The trucking industry increased driver salaries significantly in 2018, in an effort to attract more people. Additionally, some companies are also offering better-quality health and retirement packages, bonuses, and incentives.
However, getting into the industry does come with substantial upfront costs. The training required to obtain a CDL ranges between $1500 and $8000, and the course generally takes seven weeks to complete.
In an effort to attract young adults, many industry businesses are footing the bill for the online driving courses, recognizing that the initial investment can be difficult for a young person to fund. Upon completion of the course, the new driver can earn a salary that is equivalent to what a college graduate earns, but without accumulating the debt of a 4-year college tuition. In addition to covering fees for the driver training, companies are also offering sign-on bonuses.
So, what will it take for the industry to become attractive to the millennials?
CDL Limitations Pose Issue
The salary increases and tuition coverage have definitely been a step in the right direction, but there is still another hurdle to overcome, if the trucking industry hopes to hire young adults.
The CDL licensing restrictions hinder the industry’s efforts to attract young high school graduates because of its restrictions for in state and out of state driving laws. Currently, out of state travel is not an option for drivers under the age of 21, and the long-haul jobs are typically the higher paying ones in the profession. This issue makes it a difficult sale for younger adults who want to begin a career immediately after high school versus going into the military or pursuing a college degree.
However, in light of the driver shortage, new legislation is set to instate a program that will lower the age to 18 for out-of-state drivers. The bill would allow professional truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive across the states while accompanied by a veteran driver. This means the younger drivers would gain access to the bigger paychecks and benefit from the mentorship of veteran drivers.
How to Make the Industry More Attractive to Young Adults
Like all generations before them, millennials have their own criteria of what they seek in a profession. In an article published by Forbes, “5 Things We Know Millennials Want from A Job,” the list included a desire for employer loyalty, working for a company that makes a positive social impact, and the opportunity for a healthy work/family balance. Further, millennials are the first generation to have been exposed to technology their entire lives and as such they appreciate and expect access to the latest in technology advancements.
The trucking industry is well on its way towards making advancements with technology in a variety of ways. The ELD systems automate hours logging to help maintain HOS compliance and dash cams offer protection for truck drivers, with some models offering features that assess drivers and provide feedback. Overall the millennial generation finds technology appealing, and the data collected from such devices can offer advantages in safety and help improve efficiencies.
The technology doesn’t stop with the driver. The new sensor technology and diagnostic equipment of the newer trucks available on the market can offer new challenges and opportunities for those interested in problem solving or who are mechanically inclined. Also, with artificial intelligence seeing an upsurge in the trucking industry, a new skill set will be a necessity.
For a generation that focuses on making contributions towards improving the world, these developments not only help protect the environment, but the roads become safer for all drivers as well. From the more fuel-efficient rigs, electric trucks and the future plans for autonomous trucks, the trucking industry already meets some of the millennial conditions.
Change the Trucking Industry to Attract a Younger Persona
The trucking industry is often still perceived with a certain rugged stereotype; which is not necessarily appealing to the millennial that appreciates some of the finer things in life.
The new truck models should cater to additional creature comforts for the driver, including higher levels of comfort and aesthetically pleasing seating and sleep cabins. If travel is to be sold as a fringe benefit, then make it as enjoyable as possible for those long-haul trips. This younger generation wants to feel proud of the chosen career and have a desire to take ownership of their job. Having access to upgraded trucks will provide that sense of pride and communicate a vested interest from the employer.
Cultivate a Healthy Work/Life Balance
For the long hauls that last several days at a time, the truck is a driver’s home away from home. In addition to physical comforts offered in the truck, providing more flexibility with driving hours will cultivate a happy medium for individuals who seek a healthy balance between work and family. While the unusual schedules can’t always be avoided, increasing the number of days in between will offer a reprieve, giving loved one’s time to reconnect, making the mileage gap more tolerable.
Millennials strive to make the world a better place and when they feel valued, they will offer loyalty and dedication in return.