In 2015, the American Trucking Association estimated that 890,000 new commercial truck drivers would be needed by 2025 to meet the rising freight demands. Currently, based on data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Baby Boomers” (ages 45-65) compose 49.4% of the drivers on the road, while “Millennials” (ages 21-34) make up less than 16%.
Why the shortage? What is inhibiting Millennials from pursuing a career on the road?
Several reasons are speculated by transportation industry professionals:
– An increase in load rates is needed to keep pace with the cost of living, or restructuring of way drivers are compensated. For Example, changing pay structures to hourly wages rather than a rate per mile.
– CDL holders must be 21 year of age or older for interstate travel. The increasing trend of post-high school young adults taking a “gap year” or two years before pursuing college or secondary education has allowed the transportation industry an opportunity that is squandered by federal regulation on interstate travel.
– Young drivers (under age 25) are costly to insure for trucking companies, and not desirable candidates for employment because of the financial burden they present.
– Millennials do not view life on the road as attractive, exciting, or glamorous. Long haul opportunities are viewed as isolating and restrictive. Many are also unfamiliar with the complex regulations imposed by the FMCSA, and inexperienced with balancing communication between job requirements, company dispatchers, safety managers, and customers.
How can trucking companies better accommodate the needs of Millennials in the workplace, or on the road? Aside from the suggestion of pay increase or restructure, the impression of the isolated trucker must be addressed and reformed.
Like any industry, training is vital to a secure and enjoyable career. Although drivers are given adequate training on physically driving and maneuvering a truck, filling out a log book or operating e-log system, and communicating with a dispatcher.
A suggestion by our own president and CEO at Compliance Navigation Specialists is simply- “Mentorship”. At CNS, our consultants can guide you through the complex federal regulations and set you up for success in the trucking industry as an owner operator. However, the solitude of the road can be daunting. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference in your success.
“Mentorship programs at larger carriers, Swift for example, have proven effective at forging a relationship between an inexperienced driver and a veteran driver. In addition to knowledge gained by the inexperienced driver with a new CDL, it furthers the sense of community within the trucking industry.”
“A growing presence of young or inexperienced drivers, as well as driver’s spouses or families on social media proves that a sense of community is desired. It is time that companies follow suit to fulfill the benefit of inter-generational mentorships.”