RECRUITING THE NEXT GENERATION IN TRUCKING
We’ve all heard the story about aging drivers. There’s no need to regale the NTI audience with statistics about average age or the number of retirements. These are numbers that our readers are already painfully aware of.
But for as imperative as it is to address the aging workforce in trucking, it’s not going to be an easy problem to solve. For one thing, there’s higher insurance premiums. Another is that drivers under 21 are not currently eligible to drive across state lines.
The Next Generation in Trucking Association is stepping in to bridge the gap. A new organization, its mission is to cultivate awareness of and interest in trucking as a profession.
It only launched this summer, but this mission could have a lasting impact. As Lindsey Trent, executive director of the Association explains, “We’re working towards creating career tech education programs for the trucking industry. We work with high schools and technical colleges that are interested in starting CDL programs and diesel tech programs.”
The Next Generation in Trucking Association is working hard to introduce new CDL programs anywhere that people under 21 might go to get a technical education. In addition to CDL education, they are teaching students about other careers in trucking, like being a mechanic.
“We’re not just recruiting drivers, but also diesel technicians. So we work with schools and educators to try to get the industry connected in education,” Trent adds.
When you look closer at this issue, a few gaps immediately become evident. One is that construction has over 4,000 programs across the country in high schools and technical colleges. Woodworking has 1,200. CDL programs, on the other hand, have…six. With over $1.3 billion in federal funding every year allocated to technical education, there’s plenty of room to expand.
“The driver shortage is a huge issue for us, but our high schools are mostly providing training for other industries outside of trucking,” says Trent.
The Next Generation in Trucking Association is working to change that. As of August, they have schools in Kentucky and Indiana who have committed to starting a CDL program. Schools in Alabama and California aren’t far behind.
Historically, trucking has stayed out of high schools for reasons that are perfectly understandable. But with most drivers starting a trucking career in their 30s (or later), it’s time to look for new recruitment pools. The industry has worked hard to recruit women as a part of an overall effort to grow the pipeline. Next up, we’re going to do the same with young people. The National Transportation Institute is proud to be a member of, and support the efforts of, the Next Generation in Trucking Association.
The National Transportation Institute is tracking future opportunities for drivers under 21. If you would like to be a part of the Next Generation in Trucking Survey, you can find it here: https://driverwages.com/ngtsurvey/