Thought Leadership

Short On Drivers, Trucking Industry Courts Millennials

To address a shortage of drivers that could grow to 100,000 by 2016, U.S. trucking executives and workforce recruiters are trying to get into the heads of millennials.

“We have to attract younger people into our industry,” Duane Long, CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based Logistics, a provider of global logistics services, said in an interview with the Triangle Business Journal. “We are studying how the millennial generation gets its information. We are studying how social media works and trying to make our industry available by showing young people what we’re all about.”

Long is the incoming chairman of the board of the American Trucking Associations and will be inducted during the ATA Management Conference & Exhibition, Oct. 4-7 in San Diego. He said he plans to make millennial recruitment part of his platform during his chairmanship tenure.

Millennials encompass the generation that reached adulthood around the year 2000, and range in age from 18 to 29. Many came of age during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, and are seeking good careers and financial security. And according to the Pew Research organization, nearly 40 percent are unemployed or out of the workforce–presenting a huge potential pool of workers for the trucking industry.

According to the ATA, the industry is currently facing a shortage of about 30,000 drivers. If present trends continue, the number could grow to more than 100,000 by 2016.

The millennial generation is comfortable with technology and most stay connected with friends and family through social media. And in a survey by business communication provider RingCentral, about one-half of millennials said they appreciate flexible work hours and the ability to work from various locations as a way to improve their work-life balance.

Recruiters are hoping these attitudes will help make truck driving an attractive option for millennials in search of a rewarding career.

Recruitment strategies also include raising wages, according to trucking executives interviewed by Business Insider. Swift Transportation and Con-Way have indicated they will increase driver compensation.

“Overall, the industry needs to adjust compensation levels to match the jobs at hand,” Gretchen Jackson, manager of recruitment at Con-way Truckload, said in an interview with Business Insider. The company is working to connect with millennials to advance trucking as “a legitimate career option,” she said.

Tri-State Motor Transit Co. (TMST), based in Joplin, Mo., is promoting leisure time as a way to entice independent owner-operator truck drivers, both young and old, to haul for the company. Tri-State promotes a trucking lifestyle of three to four weeks of work, followed by a week or more of vacation time, using the truck to travel to visit family or to enjoy some leisure activity.

Opportunities to weave in leisure time will be discussed during candidate interviews, said Theresa Porter, driver recruiting supervisor for TSMT.

“We now want to know if drivers are NASCAR fans, hunters, like to fish, go on cruises, ride motorcycles, or just want to spend more time with their children and grandchildren,” Porter said.

The leisure-time message will be incorporated into all of the company’s recruitment channels, from print to video to social media, said David Bennett, executive vice president of TSMT.

“Not only do we need more drivers in the industry but it is imperative to find ways to keep the drivers we currently have in the industry longer. If that means we have to develop programs around the leisure needs of our drivers that are part of the baby boomer generation and younger — then we must seek ways to achieve that goal,” Bennett said.

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