by Pride Transport | May 13, 2022
The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimated that in 2021 the United States was short a record 80,000 truck drivers. In their analysis, ATA identified a variety of reasons why truck drivers a few and far between:
- The average age of current drivers translates to more retirements than companies can backfill in a timely manner. Some drivers are also changing industries pre-retirement, which is difficult to predict and proactively plan for.
- Women make up only 7% of all current truck drivers, far lower than their share in the total workforce. Women face unique challenges that may prevent them from entering the industry.
- Difficulty of applicants and professional drivers passing drug tests, especially where marijuana is being legalized by states but still banned for drivers federally. These tests are non-negotiable for trucking companies and can be deal breakers for prospective drivers.
- Lifestyle issues that have negatively impacted the health and well-being of drivers, especially for long-haul drivers. The struggle to exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and care for mental health is a continuing issue for truck drivers.
- Challenges on the road, including congested roadways and lack of parking. It’s already difficult to be on the road for long stretches of time, and that difficulty is increased when drivers can’t access adequate rest stops and needed resources.
While it’s clear there are many issues impacting the overall struggle to hire drivers, there are plenty of things the trucking industry can do to attract and retain drivers. It’s time to focus on recruiting and supporting women, Generation Z, and Millennial drivers. Let’s talk about how to get it done.
Finding New Truck Drivers: Who Are They?
Recruiting new drivers is a critical part of keeping numbers up as older drivers retire. There are three groups within the workforce that we know are underrepresented in truck driving: Generation Z, Millennials, and women.
The oldest members of Generation Z are just getting into the age where they’re fully eligible for an over the road truck driving career. New to the workforce and just coming out of a tumultuous pandemic that likely impacted their education and career plans, Generation Z values flexibility, practicality, and efficiency. Starting a career as a truck driver gives them a fast track to earning potential while keeping them out of a cubicle and helping them see more of the country.
Millennials are entering their 40s and have learned from Covid-19 that life and careers can change quickly. Many have been laid off or abandoned their jobs in search of more flexibility or entirely new careers. Their search for “work-life balance” is in full swing.
Both of these groups are among the most tech-savvy and digitally fluent people in the workforce. Their ability to research, plan, and connect via the internet is unparalleled, which can help them meet logistical challenges on the road and stay in touch with friends and family.
Women are a previously (tragically) untapped resource in trucking, but that’s starting to change. NPR.org reports that women who held service jobs prior to Covid-19 are now seeing better pay and opportunities as truck drivers.
How to Reach New Truck Driver Candidates
Recruiting new truck driving candidates requires reaching into a variety of spaces to speak directly with the candidates that companies are hoping to attract. Trucking is unique because the industry benefits can appeal across multiple generations and demographics. Companies should make sure their messaging includes:
- Competitive pay without significant debt. For anyone looking to make more money in their career, truck driving can offer earning potential without the time and resources required to earn college degrees or other vocational training.
- Career progression. Professional truck drivers can have long and beneficial careers both on and off the road. While some choose to stay behind the wheel, there are also opportunities in training, transportation management, and other areas that don’t require as much time away from home.
- Financial and training support. Companies who are helping with training, licensing, and equipment should make sure they share that information with prospective drivers. Employee investments can help build trust and loyalty, keeping drivers motivated and feeling valued.
- A variety of schedules. Truck driving offers a wide range of schedules and opportunities, from regional routes to 4x4 schedules where drivers are home for 4 days and then driving for 4 days. Chances are, you can find a schedule and route that works for the life you want.
- Travel opportunities. One of the main appeals of truck driving is the chance to see the country. Generation Z and Millennials are both known for their love of travel, so this is a great benefit to share with them.
- Updated technology. Providing in-vehicle technology and apps built for truck drivers are both benefits that will appeal to tech-savvy prospective drivers. Companies can also provide data plans and streaming services that will help drivers stay alert on the road and fill their off-hours happily.
Are you wondering if your experience and career goals might align with truck driving? We’d love to talk to you! Our values of Safety Minded, Friendly and Approachable, Hard Working, Knowledgeable, Reliable and Always Doing the Right Thing, are designed to encourage every driver to bring their best each day. We welcome a diverse workforce and invite you to learn more about driving with Pride.