What’s the Future Outlook for Millennial Truck Drivers?

There has been a shortage of truck drivers for some time and it’s not going to get any better any time soon. Some truck drivers on the side lines will disagree with this by indicating that there is no shortage – they say…

“We are here but we just don’t see enough incentives to remain in trucking”. This point is well-taken, especially looking at the number of hurdles that drivers and truck owners face such as high fuel costs, high cost of operations, government over-reach, low rates, poor infrastructure, uncertainties, etc.

So, what will the future bring?

Many drivers currently working the highways and byways are getting closer to retirement. They are older guys and gals and they are professionals with years of experience under their belts.

As they are getting replaced, the trend has some interesting facts some of which may cause some disruptions or found to be a bit disturbing.

First, younger people who do become drivers will come out of the millennial age bracket, that is, those born in the mid-80s to the mid- 90s, more or less. In this year, 2018, that would make them between the ages 22 to 35 (give or take a year or so). Some of these individuals may have trucking or logistics backgrounds; others may be those seeking an opportunity to travel while getting paid.

Second, there may be far fewer younger people to replace these nearing retirement even though the younger set will make up the largest portion of the workforce. These younger individuals are more into technology and social media than those whom they are replacing. With tech and social media skills in demand, these younger people may be eager to move into a corporate environment where they believe they can make a statement. Yet, some Millennials have an entrepreneurial mindset that may fit into driving a truck.

Here are a couple of other interesting facts (and to be understood, these facts are not necessarily condemnations): for the next 15 years, about 10,000 people per year will be turning age 65 and will most likely be retiring. (Or, they may take on positions that require fewer skills and has lower pay because their retirement savings need to be supplemented).

The younger replacements will have far less experience and will need a greater emphasis on training to get them up to speed. The irony is that with such a great demand currently for replacements and because they have less experience, one would think that a greater emphasis on training is indeed being done. The fact is, it’s not.

Many new, younger drivers are on the road going solo with inadequate training. This is a concern for safety no matter which way one looks at it. But Millennials are up for being mentored.

Some trucking companies are aware of this problem of lack of experience and have tried to initiate more and better training. Some companies want to attract military veterans who have logistics experience. This is one way to get new drivers into a fast track without losing quality. Some companies are offering nice sign-on bonuses for those with logistics-related experience.

At least one trucking company has full-sized fridges in each cab, 4K TV, integrated Apple TV and wifi to connect them all to the internet. Smart companies are aware that the younger people seek purpose and relevancy instead of just being told what to do.

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

Millennials want new opportunities and responsibilities within their work confines. These items of importance may help give the younger person a sense of direction and a personal career path that these people desire. Truck drivers may be portrayed as rugged individuals and loners and this may fly in the face of younger people who enjoy teamwork. So, if a company can understand this and create teams within the organization, there could be a marriage in the making.

Perhaps one of the biggest hitches in getting Millennials into trucking is the fact that they are generally not mechanically inclined. Diesel mechanics may be above the reach of Millennials; but as truck engines have become more and more computerized, a company could solve the problem by conducting simple, mechanical training and let the young person make the connection with his or her knowledge of computers.

How about some training on chaining up for snow or tarping a flatbed? These duties are probably second nature to the outgoing generation but may pose problems for their replacements. It’s high time for trucking companies to become more effective in their recruiting with an eye out for tomorrow.

The future of trucking depends on this new, younger generation.