Youngsters as truck drivers? This is either genius or insane. Or both.
When you think about truck driving you may think of long hours, rest stops, bearded guys named Randy, weeks away from home, etc. So, with a batch of old timers calling it quits in the coming years, the trucking industry is looking to appeal to a new crop of truck drivers: millennials.
Yep, those cell phone-obsessed, Netflix-watching, student loan-burdened millennials.
As reported by NBC News, the American Trucking Association is in the market to hire 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand. Shipping is on the rise as consumer confidence and spending has gone up as well.
Attracting the Youngsters?
Millennials, aged 22-37, are either looking for their first big career after college or maybe their next big step after grad school or menial jobs. The commercial trucking industry, which desperately needs new truck drivers, knows that the arduous lifestyle of being a trucker isn’t appealing. What’s more, special licenses, that aren’t free to get by the way, are needed to operate big trucks; another wrench in the system.
But even with everything going against the industry, companies haven’t given up on ways to make the career more appealing. Carriers are spending big bucks on advertising, social media campaigns, and modern recruitment angles to attract a new generation of truck drivers. One company that has been doing well is UPS, the perennial name in trucking, and Amazon is making waves with news of creating its own trucking wing. A big push for UPS? The perks it provides include full pension, full healthcare, and a 401(k) that the company matches, things that millennials are looking for in a secure job.
Leveling the Playing Field
Another hurdle to clear when attracting new truck drivers is trying to hire female truck drivers. The industry skews mostly male and trying to figure out how to bring on female truck drivers is a huge challenge.
Only 7% of the trucker workforce consists of women. This is something that commercial trucking companies are going to have figure out, especially with things like safety concerns always a discussion.
Rise of the Machines
One appeal that may actually land well is the push for autonomous driving in the trucking industry. Waymo is currently testing out its commercial trucks in Atlanta; Uber is partnering with companies like Budweiser for test shipments; and Tesla just made a deal with UPS to provide self-driving commercial trucks. And apart from self-driving tech, the industry is seeing a huge shakeup in technological advances. From data sharing to communication, the IoT world of trucking is a-boomin’.
While self-driving trucks initially sent chills down the spines of those already in the industry, the idea has settled as appealing. Truck drivers will still need to be inside trucks, monitoring them as they coast from location to location.
Whatever it takes, the truck driving industry needs a huge boost, and now.
This post was originally published on March 25, 2018.