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    News & Press

    Driver Dilemma: In Search of Drivers

    Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief – January 16, 2015

    M-driverstory3-1 Nussbaum Transportation, a 300-unit fleet based in Illinois, has enjoyed relatively low turnover for a truckload carrier – between 30 and 40 percent, compared to an industry average that hovers around 100 percent for TL. With good word of mouth from satisfied drivers, hiring new drivers has typically not been a problem. But last summer, the usually steady pipeline of qualified drivers came to a halt. After growing by about 50 drivers over the previous year, in July “it just kind of hit a wall,” explains Jeremy Stickling, director of human resources. From July through October, Nussbaum’s driver fleet numbers remained flat. “It’s not that we were hemorrhaging drivers. We just weren’t getting the number of quality candidates we were used to.” Anectodal evidence suggests that Nussbaum isn’t the only company that has begun to struggle to get drivers after years of enjoying low turnover. Even some less-than-truckload carriers and private fleets, which traditionally have turnover around 10-15 percent, have had to get more creative and work harder to fill the seats behind the wheel. It’s a similar situation with dedicated fleet operations. “Traditionally it’s been easier to hire into dedicated fleets,” says Craig Brown of Arkansas-based flatbed carrier Maverick Transportation. “We used to be able to attract younger people to dedicated fleets, because of the more predictable schedule. But we’re even finding that’s much more difficult this year.” As an industry, trucking faces a massive labor shortage in the coming years. The industry is currently short about 35,000 truck drivers, and we’ll need nearly 240,000 additional drivers by 2020, according to the American Trucking Associations’ estimates. Competing with other businesses Other business sectors face labor and skills shortages of a similar magnitude. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a list of occupations with the most job growth between 2012 and projected out to 2022. Heavy truck drivers are on the list, but the projected shortfall of drivers ranks near the bottom quarter of the list at 11.3%. Sitting above truck drivers on the list are construction workers (24.3%), home health care aides and personal care workers (48%), nurses (24.8%) and software developers (22.8%), for example. By employment group, projected growth for workers in transportation and material handling occupations is quite close to the bottom compared to other sectors, such as healthcare support occupations (28%), computer and mathematical occupations (18%) and construction and extraction jobs (21%). The training or education required for entry into some of these fields is comparable to trucking. Wages, based on 2012 figures, are comparable in most cases. So trucking probably wouldn’t stand out in the eyes of a young person scanning such a list while planning his or her career. Follow the link for the full story!