Truck driving has been the backbone of the economy for ages. Until recently, truck driving has never faced a shortage of drivers. According to the American Trucking Association, the truck driving industry was short by about 60,000 drivers at the end of this decade. This is because loyalists such as boomers and Generation X are now retiring, and there aren't enough Millennials and Gen Z to replace them.
To say that there's a generational gap between outgoing truck drivers and incoming truck drivers is an understatement. The average age of a truck driver is currently 45, and it keeps increasing each year. For the trucking industry to survive, it has to maintain a healthy supply of labor. Hence, it has to reach out to younger demographics.
Who are Gen Z and Millennials?
Although “Millennials” has become shorthand for any younger generation, those defined as Millennials by Pew Research Center were born between 1981 and 1996 and anyone born from 1997 onward is part of Gen Z.
The Largest Working Demographic
Millennials are now in the driver's seat of the American economy. The department of labor estimates that they make up around 60 percent of the U.S. workforce. This number will only increase if boomers keep retiring at the rates they are doing now. Otheindustries have already noticed this trend and have started pivoting their hiring practices to these demographics.
Truck driving is trailing behind in terms of Millennial workers because of:
- Tight Labor Market
Before 2020, America saw one of its tightest labor markets in many years. Hiring was a challenge, especially younger workers, as job offers flooded the economy. However, this could change due to the pandemic causing an increase in the unemployment rate that will make it harder to find a job.
CDL training can be a financial challenge for many Millennials. The cost of getting a CDL has, however, been decreasing in recent times. The decrease results from trucking companies kicking in to help train drivers or pay for their training.
Age restriction is another challenge for young drivers who are straight from high school. One has to be 21 years of age to cross state lines as a truck driver. Many can't wait that long to get their first jobs. Those three years are enough for one to pass on truck driving, train, and join another profession.
These are a few tips for trucking companies that want to attract Gen Z and Millennials:
1. Work-Life Balance
To attract new drivers, trucking companies have to focus on establishing work-life balance for truck drivers. The misconception that truck driving is this crude job where people never see their families or have time home needs to be challenged. There is more to truck driving than spending the rest of your life on the interstate, and Millennials have to see it that way.
When pitching to Millennials and Gen Z, more than the pay has to be put into considerations. Millennials now value perks like maternity and paternity leave more than their outgoing counterparts. These are benefits that trucking companies have to consider.
2. Showcase Company Culture
Despite popular belief, Millennials attach value to culture. This current generation, though progressive, has a place in their hearts for tradition. Trucking companies should showcase their culture more and find ways to make Millennial employees feel part of it. There should be reward and appreciation ceremonies for drivers who go beyond their way.
Outings, mentoring programs, and training classes say a lot about a company's culture and its appreciation for its workers. Truck driving has to be more than working for pay - it should also be about creating change and adding value to people's lives. Millennials and members of Gen Z identify with purpose and working for something greater than themselves.
3. Improvement in Technology
Boomers and the generations before them grew up when the wheels of technology were beginning to turn. They would drive from Florida to Missouri on rugged old trucks with visible wires before they built the interstates. And they loved it. Millennials, on the other hand, grew up during the technological revolution.
Trucking has to adapt to new technologies if it ever wants to attract the attention of younger drivers. Technologies such as dash cams and side camera instead of mirrors have to get more appreciation from truck companies. Fleet software in terms of fuel monitoring is also a considerable addition that trucking companies should make.
4. Social Media
Statistics show that Millennials spend most of their time on social media. Trucking companies have to be present and respond actively on these channels to connect with the younger generation. This doesn’t mean you have to post every single day, but staying at the forefront of their minds can increase your brand awareness and showcase your company culture as mentioned above.
5. Mobile Job Applications
A Pew Research Poll shows that nine in ten Millennials own phones, and they spend an average of 6 hours on them. Trucking companies must transform their job applications and make them more mobile-friendly.
Millennials will likely ignore mail-job applications that they have to drive to the USPS to post. Making it easier for young people to find and apply for trucking jobs online is one of the surest ways to gain applicants.
The times are changing, and trucking as an entirety has to keep up. The future of trucking is in the younger generations, and the industry is better realizing this sooner than later.