Despite a nearly 10-percent national unemployment rate, the trucking industry is still unable to fill numerous open positions. This anomaly is starting to grow from an inconvenience into a serious problem for all society.
The impact of truck drivers on society is more profound than the average citizen would realize; most people don’t think about how the milk gets to the supermarket, or who brings the new shoes to the department store, or who delivers the materials to actually build the aforementioned buildings.
When there aren’t enough drivers, the cost of doing business goes up for the retailers, which trickles down to the consumers. Trucking penetrates the entire infrastructure of society.
Along with the inability to convince young workers to commit to such a grueling occupation, as mentioned before on this blog, the more immediate concern is the impending retirement of the baby boomers.
As with many fields, the baby boomer generation makes up a large portion of the workforce. But unlike other fields, such as computer programming, medicine, or engineering, there are not fresh bodies ready to take over behind the wheel.
A new study calculates that tens of thousands of drivers are nearing the age of retirement. There is already a lack of young people training to be truckers and the appeal of long hours on the open road is not going to become more enticing.
What is the biggest problem? It is already too late to fix. Steps should have been made twenty years ago to prepare for the transition. Instead, short of increasing the starting salary, the only viable solution is to lower the requirements to work, which could cause danger on the road.
Another issue is that most employers want to hire people with at least two years of experience. Even shadowing jobs, where trainees drive with senior truckers, come at the expense of the driver and take time.
Training programs cannot handle an increased number of students, because they will either be short on trucks or teachers. Government subsidies could help these programs, which might be the only good solution.