One topic occasionally discussed openly is the growing shortage of qualified truck drivers in the US. The average age of drivers is about 50, and every year, more and more drivers retire around that age, especially after a long career on the road. There are some suggestions, but few answers, as the actual number of working drivers declines while the need for freight transportation, especially for 3PL companies Connecticut, increases daily.
Statistics from the Bureau of Transportation indicate that roughly 70% of all freight in the US travels by truck. On the flip side, the industry is 6% short on drivers to carry this freight to its destination.
In order to keep freight moving to keep up with demand, the industry needs to add almost 1 million new drivers by 2024.
The 3PL Take
The rise of e-commerce and options like 2-day shipping have 3PL companies have something to be concerned about should the availability of drivers continue to decrease. Freight may simply not be moved anywhere in the US, bringing commerce to a near halt. Most 3PL companies leave the driving to the trucking companies they contract with for shipments. Most freight is moving, but that could change dramatically in a few years.
If a trucking company is short on drivers, 3PL companies may find themselves unable to move freight like they did before. If the driver shortage continues the steep decline without a substantial uptick in driver numbers, freight could simply be harder to move, increasing the cost of freight substantially as well as creating “classes of freight,” making some companies wait longer.
The Driver’s Side
Over-the-road drivers face a number of obstacles during any workday. They’re away from home, usually for long periods of time. They face road congestion, increased regulatory restrictions, fluctuations in fuel prices, and as well as licensing and other financial responsibilities along with their regular job. It’s no wonder that turnover for full truckload fleets runs in the 90% range, translating to most drivers quitting after their first year. Turnover for LTL (less than truckload) fleets is considerably less at 8%.
Forward-thinking companies should focus on driver retention instead of just recruitment for constant turnover, as well as recruiting, training and retaining quality dispatchers who can handle a multitude of tasks.
New Driver Recruitment
One of the biggest hurdles the industry faces is age. While other industries are laying off workers over 50 to make room for younger workers, the trucking industry has the opposite problem: their best drivers are over 50, and retiring daily. That’s easy, you may be thinking—just hire more. But it’s not that simple. Training takes at least 90 days, and then getting the CDL takes more time.
The next group to recruit from are millennials, born between 1981 and 2004. They’ve grown up with technology, and adapt to it quickly. That’s a big plus now that electronic logs and other related technology is standard in large trucks.
But attracting millennials isn’t as easy as just offering a job with free CDL training, since most don’t think much of driving as a career. After high school, they may head to college or trade school, and train to become welders, pipefitters or in other professional careers such as accounting, law and medicine. By the time they’re working in other vocations, changing careers to drive for a living may not interest them.
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