Addressing Driver Shortages
In the U.S., the driver shortage is projected at more than 80,000 drivers. As an industry that moves 70% of freight, this shortage has affected more than just the trucking industry.
The lack of drivers has increased supply chain shortages and increased prices across the country. This shortage has also led to current drivers taking on more.
Things have progressed enough that the current administration has put together an action plan meant to help increase recruitment in the trucking industry. This plan includes increasing recruiting within the military and developing an apprenticeship pilot program geared towards recruiting younger drivers.
While many in the trucking industry are appreciative that the issues are being noticed, a lot of these organizations feel that the efforts in place are not enough.
The Push for Driver Vocation Programs
The Next Generation in Trucking Association (NGTA) is one such organization. This organization is a non-profit trade association with a mission to reach younger generations and support them in seeking career opportunities in the trucking industry.
NGTA is leading a campaign to create high school driver vocation training programs across the country. They want to establish a core curriculum that can be used to train high school students in driving commercial vehicles.
This curriculum would include instruction in mechanics, fuel and emission control technologies, and regulations. They hope to reach these students while they are still making decisions about their career choices. The problem with recruiting younger drivers is the 21-year age limit to get a CDL.
By the time people can enter the trucking industry as a driver, they are 3 years into a chosen vocation. By creating these educational programs, NGTA hopes to draw more attention to the trucking industry as a potential career option.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are currently only 37 CDL programs in 18 states for high school students. NGTA would like to change this by working with schools and companies in the industry to create standard curricula and apprenticeship partnerships that increase the chances of younger people joining the industry.
Getting the Word Out
Currently, few people even know that CDL programs exist in high schools or how they work. Even fewer realize the benefit that these programs can bring.
This is because the cost of developing programs like this can get high and transportation companies are reluctant to spend money on new programs that have not been tested.
NGTA has developed a standard curriculum for schools and companies to allow high school students to learn the basics of driving commercial vehicles and be able to get an apprenticeship. They work with these organizations to bring them together.
The Benefits of Driver Vocation Programs
This organization hopes to reduce the driver shortage by reaching high school students early and getting them excited about the trucking industry. The hope is that these programs will help the economy in multiple ways.
- Reduce the truck driver shortage
If the driver vocation programs succeed, high school students will choose career paths as commercial truck drivers. This will create an influx of drivers to take the place of those drivers getting ready to retire. This should in time reduce the costs of transporting goods.
- Increase income in the transportation industry
With more drivers on the road, transportation costs will reduce, making it easier to pay competitive wages.
- Decreased delivery delays and increased sales
More drivers on the road also means products will get delivered in a timelier manner. This should decrease supply shortages and increase revenues throughout all industries.
What is the Right Answer for the Driver Shortage?
Many areas can be improved to deal with driver shortages. The Administration is currently working with legislatures to look for options, and industry organizations such as NGTA and Women in Trucking look for options to appeal to new demographics in the industry.
The answer will require many options and industry leaders working together to find the best solutions. This means organizations and companies need to get a good sense of what potential drivers need from their jobs to make it worth their while.
It is worth watching what happens with the different programs and ideas that are coming out now. It’s also a good idea to get involved wherever you can and make sure drivers’ voices are heard.
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