Retiring Baby Boomers are one of the leading factors of the driver shortage. Currently, the average age of professional drivers is 52. Additionally, over 60 percent of drivers are older than 45, and just six percent are younger than 35.
Competition from other industries has also swayed potential drivers who instead are going to work in the construction, oil, and energy industries. Stricter regulations are also playing a role in making the talent pool shallower.
As the industry deals with the aging workforce and stricter regulations, companies have to look at millennials to fill the vacancies. According to Pew Research Center, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. The question remains, how can the industry add millennials to its talent pool.
The first way is to understand how the budding population looks their careers. A recent survey by Fleet Owner tracked factors that matter to millennials and showed:
- 23% indicated that the ability to make an impact on the business mattered most
- 20% wanted a clear path to advancement
- 16% would be interested in a company that provided development and on-going feedback
- 13% listed income as their top priority
While one key is understanding the new workforce, the second is finding and enticing them. Millennials grew up in a digital world on mobile platforms and social networking. That’s where companies need to be to recruit them.
Secondly, while some claim advanced vehicle technology has deterred drivers, it can be used to recruit new talent to the industry – especially millennials. Increased road safety regulations have played a large role in driving advancements in onboard vehicle technologies, many of which assist drivers or even automatically intervene to prevent a collision before it happens. Adaptive cruise control, forward-looking radar, collision-avoidance and lane-departure warning systems are examples of technologies’ increasing automation, which is currently available and in use in many commercial fleets.
These technologies actually change the commercial driver profile of who to recruit and what level of sophistication they have around technology and the industry in general. The increased focus on technology, environment, and innovation all act as attracters for the new generation of drivers. When combining connectivity, telematics, safety features and automated manual transmission, all are leading to semi-automated and eventually fully automated trucks that a younger generation of drivers would be more inclined to operate as a career.
Many companies are developing a creative list of ideas to attract drivers, in addition to the obvious approach of simply offering more money. One strategy companies can use to entice new drivers is to target high unemployment areas and offer to relocate recruits where they are needed. Companies can also expand their search parameters looking to bring in women, veterans, and retirees.
When recruiting, partnerships with organizations can lead to a specialized talent pool. One of these groups is Hiring our Heroes, an organization that assists veterans and transitioning service members to find employment. Many trucking firms are successful in hiring returning veterans. They are in the job market, and may already have the training and experience needed to drive. Veterans possess many of the invaluable skills and qualities that are essential to be drivers. Through specialized training, recruits can become key employees in the trucking industry.
A second organization, Women in Trucking, is promoting the truck driving profession to women. Through a partnership with this organization, trucking companies are focusing on positively changing the ergonomics of their trucks to recruit women. Adding women to the driver pool is not just something done simply to fill a need; it is something done because there is an opportunity to utilize under-represented potential.
Other Best Practices
Along with expanding the talent pool, companies can offer creative benefits such as:
- Tickets to sporting events after a certain time of service
- Tuition reimbursement
- Military leave with no vacation time required
- More paid vacation
- Bonus and incentive plans