There has been a long-standing shortage of truck drivers, and it is unlikely to get any better any time soon. Some truckers who are watching from the sidelines will argue against this and claim there is no shortage…

“We are here but we just don’t see enough incentives to remain in trucking”. This is a valid point, especially in light of the numerous obstacles that truckers and drivers must overcome, such as high fuel prices, high operating costs, government overreach, low rates, subpar infrastructure, and other uncertainties.

What then will the future hold?

The retirement age of many of the drivers who are currently on the highways and backroads is approaching. They are professionals with years of experience who are older males and females.

As they are replaced, the trend has some fascinating facts, some of which may cause some disruptions or be a little unsettling.

First, those who are younger and do become drivers will roughly fall into the millennial age range, or those who were born between the mid-80s and mid-90s. The age range for them in this year, 2018, would be 22 to 35 (plus or minus a year). These people range from those looking for the chance to travel while earning money to those with backgrounds in logistics or trucking.

Second, even though the younger generation will make up the majority of the workforce, there might be far fewer younger people to replace those who are close to retiring. Compared to those they are replacing, the younger generation is more interested in technology and social media. These younger people may be eager to enter a corporate setting where they feel they can make a statement because tech and social media skills are in high demand. However, some Millennials may be more suited to driving a truck because of their entrepreneurial mindset.

Other interesting facts include the following: over the next 15 years, 10,000 people will turn 65 and will most likely retire annually (please note that these facts should not be interpreted as condemnations). (Or, if they need to supplement their retirement savings, they might accept jobs with lower pay and fewer skills requirements.

Due to their inexperience, the younger replacements will require more training to get them up to speed. The irony is that one would think that a greater emphasis on training is being done given the current demand for replacements and the fact that they have less experience. The truth is that it isn’t.

Numerous inexperienced, younger drivers are operating vehicles alone today. No matter how one looks at it, this is a safety concern. The younger generation, however, is open to mentoring.

Some trucking companies are aware of the issue of a lack of experience and have made an effort to start more and better training. Some businesses are looking to recruit logistics-experienced veterans from the armed forces. This is one method of accelerating the development of new drivers without sacrificing quality. Some businesses provide attractive sign-on bonuses to candidates with prior experience in logistics.

Each cab in at least one trucking company has a full-sized refrigerator, a 4K TV with an integrated Apple TV, and wifi to connect them all to the internet. Smart businesses are aware that younger generations look for relevance and purpose rather than merely being told what to do.

“If you bought it a truck brought it” makes sense to these young folks.

Within the confines of their jobs, millennials want new challenges and obligations. These significant things could assist in establishing the younger person’s sense of direction and desired career path. Younger people who value teamwork may object if truck drivers are portrayed as tough, solitary individuals. A marriage may thus be on the horizon if a company can grasp this and establish teams within the business.

The fact that Millennials are typically not mechanically inclined is probably one of the biggest challenges in recruiting them to the trucking industry. Young people may not be able to learn diesel mechanics, but as truck engines become more and more computerized, a business could solve the issue by providing basic mechanical training and letting the student make the connection with his or her familiarity with computers.

How about some instruction on tarping a flatbed or chaining up for snow? The aging generation probably takes these responsibilities for granted, but their replacements may find them challenging. It’s imperative that trucking companies improve their hiring processes with an eye toward the future.

This new, younger generation is essential to the future of trucking.

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