by Pride Transport | Jan 21, 2019
Can Millennials and Women Help Stem the Growing Truck Driver Shortage?
Wanted: Truck Drivers
A conservative estimate sets the number of truckers currently needed at about 60,000. That number could triple by 2026. The trucking industry is vital to our economic infrastructure and a continued depletion in drivers could lead to high prices, slower deliveries and a general shutdown of services in major parts of the country. We need truck drivers.
One Answer: Women
Currently only 7% of the commercial trucking workforce is women, but that number could be greatly increased.
With technological advances in modern truck design and construction, with everything from hood releases to dollies being hydraulic now, there are no physical challenges that women can't tackle. How does the industry take advantage of this viable resource for drivers?
When targeting women, the industry is realizing that women are more concerned with safety, both on and off the road. Companies need to stress their high standards of equipment safety, highlight new features, and express their interest in using software that limits the truck’s speed to 60, 64 or 68. Studies have shown that speed-limiting software could actually have benefits like saving an average of 498 lives per year. Stressing you believe in safety would make the job more attractive to women.
And don't forget life outside the cab — mapping out truck stops that have higher security and better lighting will give women drivers a sense of personal security and make the idea of driving more appealing.
Show Them Statistics
Let the current crop of women drivers speak about the work. Point out the fact that not only do women drive trucks for a living but they are very happy doing it. According to the SheDrivesTrucks reader profile, 26% of women truck drivers are satisfied with their jobs while 55% love their jobs and 90% say they would recommend driving trucks to other women. That's unusually high job satisfaction.
Listen to Them
Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women In Trucking Association, is working to bring a sense of community to women drivers and to build a forum where women share ideas, stories, thoughts and desires about trucking. She’s also getting manufacturers like Peterbilt to think about women when they design new trucks, to adapt better ergonomics for their shorter arms and legs while keeping in mind that women like their cabs to feel like a home. These are all points that can be highlighted when aiming to recruit women.
Young People — Truckers of Tomorrow?
Kids coming out of high school who have no desire to go to college or the military are perfect candidates for the trucking industry. What’s keeping young people from joining this workforce?
There are several hills that companies need to climb when targeting young people for recruitment. First off is the cost of a CDL license, which is required to drive a truck. Schools or programs generally run between $1,500 and $8,000. Another hurdle is the age restriction — currently, drivers under 18 cannot drive over state lines, putting the long haul and more lucrative routes out of reach.
When recruiting young people, some companies have turned to offering either in-house CDL training or reimbursement of tuition, with a commitment to driving for the company for a certain length of time (usually eight months to one year). It makes sense that if young drivers see they can start a good career debt-free with solid pay and benefits, the job is going to be much more attractive to them.
Point out the fact that with a CDL license, which is usually obtained in seven weeks (attending class five days per week), new drivers can make as much money as people who are coming out of a four-year college. However, unlike the college grad, the new driver won’t have crushing debt or be financially depleted from paying high tuition and fees.
As for the age regulations, the White House is backing a pilot program that would allow younger drivers with military experience to operate commercial vehicles across state lines. This new plan signals a willingness by the government and specifically the DOT to allow drivers under 21 to make interstate deliveries, paving the way for a more lucrative first year for new drivers.
Getting Millennials Behind The Wheel
Say the word Millennial and frankly people have a negative image. When looking to shore up numbers in the trucking industry, it’s ill advised to believe the negative hype about this section of the population. Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers, who have started to retire in large numbers. Millennials are the most diverse generation ever — 44% identify with a minority or ethnic group, 58% are bilingual. They have a lot to offer. How do companies get them into the trucking workforce?
When targeting Millennials it’s important to understand their core wants and how they think. They seek the entrepreneurial culture, they want a good life-work balance. They want to do work that matters, to have a job that helps them succeed at work and in life and has an impact on the world. Because they grew up in age of technology they have an expanded sense of a global village. Experiences matter to them more than things and yet, they do like certain creature comforts. With all the information out there on Millennials, it should be easy to target them when recruiting.
Connect Trucking To What Matters To Millennials
To demonstrate how a truck driver has an impact on society, simply point out that entering the trucking industry is becoming part of the backbone of the American economy. Show them that without truckers the nation would basically collapse in a matter of months — Millennials may love dystopian movies but they don't want to live in one.
Because they are more attuned to experiences, highlight the fact that a coast-to-coast long haul is a travel experience unlike anything someone sitting at a desk could ever have.
Promoting diversity in ads is going to be very attractive to the Millennial crowd. However, you can use the word "diversity" as much as you want but if your company is not actually diverse, you’ll be caught out. Millennials will do research before they make any choice and if they find out you’re giving only lip service to diversity, they will walk away and share it on social media.
The aesthetics of your equipment will have an impact on Millennials as well. A Millennial truck driver is going to have a intense appreciation for where they work and how it makes them feel. State of the art equipment and attractive cabs that can be personalized will be a high point for these potential drivers.
Offering a strong a benefits package and good healthcare can be very impactful. Remember, Millennials that are reaching the age of 26 are about to be kicked off their parents' insurance plans.
Friends and family are vital to the Millennial generation. Show you understand and support this by offering plenty of time off, flexible schedules and reliable wi-fi so that they can stay connected when on the road.
Also having coaches and mentors within the company will be attractive to Millennials, who are eager to learn and move up and around in a company. If they can have access to mentors who have experience and learn from them while growing and digesting information at their own pace, they will feel connected and happy.
Change Things Up
Working with and targeting millennials is going to mean a change in some well worn practices, starting with the interview process. Are you simply dropping someone in a room and then putting them under a microscope? This is not going to work with Millennials. Try using the technology they’re familiar with and conduct the interview via a mobile app like Skype or Facetime. This is going to make the process less stressful for the prospective driver.
During the interview don’t just run down a checklist of things they need to answer — offer more than you ask. Tell them about the company culture, goals, where you see the company going and what you seek to achieve. Talk about your connections to the community and charitable endeavors and explain that they’ll have ample opportunity to give to the community as well. Making them feel a part of something forward-thinking and impactful is more appealing than the idea of being a number or just another time card.
A Modern Age for Trucking
The images of truck drivers in people’s heads can be a bit stuck in the past. The idea of cowboys in cutoff shirts or Smokey and the Bandit may be iconic but they’re no longer true. Changing the picture, bringing truck driving into the modern age is going to be the key to better, more successful recruiting. Start with where companies advertise for drivers.
Social media isn't just for posting pictures of pets — it's become one of the best places to recruit young people and especially Millennials. Of all the 18-39-year-olds using at least one social media platform, 68% are on Facebook. 80% of 30-49-year-olds are on Facebook. 60% of all current truck drivers are on Facebook. In other words, to reach a huge target audience of young people and Millennials for recruiting, companies need look seriously at Facebook.
Facebook also carries a “viral” factor. Everyone’s friends are on Facebook, it’s a social hub, so getting one person interested in truck driving can lead them to share your information with their friends and family, and they in turn share your information with theirs, and pretty soon a much larger audience is talking about the trucking profession and your company in particular. In today's always-online lifestyle, social media is a platform that trucking companies must to use when trying to fill the depleted ranks of drivers.
If companies begin to pay attention to the changes in thinking and the general wants of young people and Millennials, there is a good chance the hole in the truck driving industry can be filled by younger generations.