The trucking industry has been struggling to recruit younger drivers into its aging workforce for years. Companies of all sizes have rolled out recruitment and retention initiatives intended to bring in new drivers and retain existing. Most of these programs have focused on offering bonuses or other incentives like increased home time or tuition reimbursement.
While these efforts have moved the needle for some individual companies, the industry as a whole continues to struggle. It is also becoming clear that traditional incentives are not enough to offset the effects of outside factors like the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, the e-commerce boom and the coronavirus pandemic.
“To a large extent, the trucking industry has attempted to do the same things over and over again,” TransForce Group’s President of Digital Recruiting Jon Maly said. “Companies need to get more innovative in their approach to hiring, recruiting, onboarding and taking care of their drivers. They’re the most important piece of the puzzle right now, and the challenges of recruiting and retaining drivers have been exacerbated by several different factors.”
The coronavirus pandemic inspired retirement-age drivers to leave the industry en masse while also shutting down driving schools for months on end, compounding the existing shortage. Additionally, the unprecedented e-commerce boom coupled with overall economic resurgence has further strained an already overwhelmed workforce. There is no simple solution to understaffing in today’s market, but there are steps companies can take to better their odds of success.
“The issue with our industry’s driver shortage is urgent because the number of drivers with 6 months to 18 months of experience was almost wiped out by truck driving school and DMV closures over the past 14 months.” TransForce Group’s President of Driver Education and Training Al Hanley said. “This is important to employers that typically require 12 months or more experience. There is a real hole in the market and it will stay that way for the coming year and longer. New regulations will be going into effect in February of 2022 that will become yet another barrier to new drivers entering the market”, he continues.
Sometimes hiring bonuses, innovative advertising and raising rates still aren’t enough to get seats filled. Partnering with a company like TransForce Group to hire and screen drivers is another underutilized tool for building and maintaining a reliable group of drivers.
Traditionally, companies will require driver candidates to have between 18 and 24 months of experience before they will consider hiring them. This narrows down an already-strained driver pool, while making it difficult for entry-level drivers to find jobs. TransForce Group offers a Finishing School Blueprint program, making it easier for companies to confidently hire green drivers. The program is also designed to make it easier for carriers to insure these new drivers at reasonable rates, conquering a huge hurdle to new driver recruitment.
In addition to widening the pool of eligible drivers, hiring new drivers may actually give companies a unique edge. Research shows that entry-level drivers are more loyal and adaptable than those with more experience. These drivers are also just as safe as their more seasoned counterparts, especially when participating in a finishing school program.
When choosing a staffing partner, it is important to evaluate the company’s priorities and past performance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) holds carriers accountable for their drivers’ actions, no matter how those drivers were brought onto the team. That means it is of the utmost importance to partner with a company that can be trusted to do the legwork when evaluating drivers.
Ultimately, it has become abundantly clear that traditional driver recruiting methods are no match for today’s market challenges. Carriers hoping to thrive despite this challenge need to revamp their approach, whether that means jazzing up their advertising, raising their rates, rethinking their barrier to entry for new drivers, outsourcing their hiring processes or all of the above.