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Finding the Next-Gen of Drivers: Carriers Taking Different Routes to Fill the Driver Shortage

In addition to boosting pay and signing bonuses to new heights, trucking companies are focusing on promising verticals to fill tractor seats and appeal to the next generation of drivers.

This post highlights a few of these trends in more detail, including:

Attention is Turning to Teen Drivers

In the US, many companies are hopeful for the Biden Administration’s push to lower the minimum age of interstate truck drivers. Some are planning ahead. 

According to Patrick McFarland, marketing director at Reno-based ITS Logistics, the company is working on a new training program providing on-the road experience and mentoring to newly minted CDL holders.

Women are Discovering Trucking

Tommy Paul, a commercial truck driving instructor at J-Tech in Florida has seen a big increase in women coming through J-Tech’s CDL Program in 2021.

“Before we’d have one female student every six months, and now we’re seeing one, two or three in every class,” he said. Paul credits the attractive pay as well as today’s equipment, with many companies moving to automatic transmissions that are easier to drive.

Military Veterans: A Reliable Source of Drivers

Companies are turning more to military veterans with truck driving experience.

“They are ideal candidates when it comes to discipline, logistics and responsibility. That makes them a great group to recruit from,” explained President and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, Alix Miller.

ITS Logistics’ McFarland concurs. Recruiting veteran drivers is a committed strategy. CDL-holding veterans are given credit for their years of military experience; for example, if they had seven years of service, they start at the same level as other seven-year drivers at the company.

Foreign Drivers May Provide an Option

With today’s unprecedented 80,000-driver gap in the US, companies are taking the step of recruiting drivers from Mexico, Europe, South Africa and Canada. Yet, HR Trucking reports that Canada has its own shortage of 20,000 unfilled seats in the cab.

A&M Transport CEO Andrew Owens said in an August 2, 2021, Bloomberg article that his company brought in 20 foreign workers in the last year. One of the main challenges of hiring foreign drivers is that they need to speak and read English to get a CDL.

They also face bureaucratic hurdles. In the article, Owens said he’s been waiting since 2017 for a contract with 15 workers to gain approval and that only two of them have made it through the process so far.

Companies Can’t Overlook Retention

Faced with turnovers and difficulty hiring new drivers, companies are looking within to improve driver satisfaction and retention. The pandemic-accelerated driver shortage inspired ITS Logistics to dive into creating a more driver-friendly company.

“From a high executive leadership level, we really, really dug in more than we probably ever have,” McFarland recounts. The resulting initiatives led them to overhaul and simplify every aspect of their pay model, do monthly check-in calls with drivers and invest in the fun culture the company is known for.

“By creating a driver-friendly company culture, I think we’ll be positioning ourselves to be as competitive as we can in the marketplace,” he said

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