How to Attract Younger Generations to Truck Driving

How to Attract Younger Generations to Truck Driving

With a shortage of more than 60,000 truck drivers due in large part to an aging workforce, the idea of recruiting millennial and Generation Z workers into the profession is gaining traction.

Here are some actions companies can take to pave the way for the next generation of truck drivers.

Start a warehouse-to-driver transition program. Because federal regulations prevent people younger than 21 from obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) that would allow them to drive trucks across state lines, many high school graduates who may have considered a trucking career pursue jobs in other fields.

Companies can break down this barrier and establish a hiring pipeline by creating transition programs that give young people the opportunity to work in a warehouse before attending truck driving school and eventually becoming a professional driver.

Implement a thorough onboarding process. Truck driving schools teach the skills and knowledge needed to pass the CDL exam. They do not provide all the tools drivers need to succeed at the companies that hire them.

Ensure employees have consistent and meaningful contact with managers and supervisors. Consider assigning new drivers to an experienced mentor or having them spend time with a partner who can show them the ropes.

Offer CDL tuition reimbursement. Financial limitations can be an obstacle when beginning a career. Paying all or part of the cost to attend CDL school is another way to entice younger drivers to join your company. Many organizations that provide tuition reimbursement pay drivers in increments over time, which can also boost retention.

Begin an employee referral program. According to a recent American Transportation Research Institute study, 73% of surveyed drivers between the ages of 18 and 25 were introduced to trucking by an adult relative. Giving referral bonuses to current employees can inspire them to not only advocate for trucking as a career choice, but also promote your company’s open jobs to the younger drivers they know. Often seen as a perk, these bonuses can help you retain drivers after you hire them, too.

Provide recognition and incentives. Younger employees want more frequent recognition compared to older generations. Acknowledge your drivers’ outstanding work with Driver of the Month and Driver of the Year awards, tout their accomplishments in company newsletters and social media pages, and host appreciation activities like cookouts and outings. And incentives for safe driving and additional training show your drivers that hard work pays off.

Create clear paths for advancement. Many drivers in the early stages of their careers are motivated by the prospect of earning better opportunities down the road. While it is important to offer higher pay or more flexible schedules, companies must also establish a viable path from the truck to the office.

Give drivers the chance to become trainers, team leads, dispatchers or members of operations and management teams. The best fleet leaders are often former drivers due to their firsthand experience behind the wheel.

Support work-life balance. When it comes to factors influencing job satisfaction, drivers of all ages consider home time to be the most important. When possible, companies should create more regional and local jobs that allow drivers to be home every night.

Also accommodate for those who desire part-time or flexible work. This can help combat the industry’s reputation for long hours that has kept younger generations away.

Companies that can connect with young drivers—a largely untapped source of talent—will be well-positioned for success in the face of the ongoing driver shortage.