One of the most concerning factors behind the current and future driver shortage is the lack of young drivers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average age of a truck driver today is 55 or older. The Baby Boomer generation is growing increasingly close to retirement and there are not enough drivers, especially young ones, to replace them.
There are many reasons why younger generations don’t view trucking as a viable career option. A guest article on the Cerasis suggests a cultural difference between older drivers and younger drivers is keeping the younger generation away from starting a career in trucking. Experienced truckers view new drivers as careless and obsessed with technology, all while possessing poor mechanical skills. Rookies view older drivers as condescending, technology-inept, and unwilling to pass on their trucking knowledge. Obviously, these are generalizations and don’t represent the entire industry, but recent surveys suggest there is some truth to these generational stereotypes.
Younger generations do not view driving a truck as a good career option and there are many reasons for this: time away from home, long hours, and a mediocre salary and benefits. Not to mention today there are numerous other career options that pay just as well, if not better, and allow for easier hours and career growth.
All of this makes recruiting truck drivers very difficult. Carriers have to get creative and go to great lengths to show younger generations that driving a truck is rewarding. Con-Way Freight has implemented an apprenticeship program to encourage young people to drive for their fleet. An apprentice spends 20 hours a week on the dock, earning a small income, and another 20 hours a week for learning about trucks and industry regulations. Once an apprentice successfully completes a program, they are given a CDL, are CSA compliant, and are ready to start driving for Con-Way.
Unfortunately, many carriers can’t afford to run such a program. However, many carriers offer a mentor program, where potential young drivers can ride with older drivers to see what the job is like. Other carriers start programs with their local driving schools in an attempt to hire young drivers. There are numerous possibilities and a carrier has to see what works best with their business strategy, but they can be sure young drivers won’t be crawling to them for jobs. Carriers have to actively seek young talent.