What Can Be Done?
A few ideas have been suggested regarding what can be done about the shortage of drivers. One possible solution that I’ve mentioned in past posts is paying workers higher wages, but this costs trucking companies a lot of money would likely have to be done incrementally if at all if it’s to be seen as a sustainable solution in the future.
A couple possible solutions that alter the nature of the job should also be explored. Companies should look to utilize less than truckload shipping. This method would allow drivers to work locally and spend more time at home. Autonomous trucking may also draw in prospective employees, as it caters more to millennials who are interested in tech.
As previously mentioned, current demographic trends also contribute to the shortage of drivers. The trucking industry mostly consists of older, white men (LTX). Companies in search of workers may benefit from finding ways to incentivize women and minorities. Veterans also may be a potential target. Many of them come out of the armed services with experience handling heavy machinery.
Looking the Future
Despite what some may believe, our increased tendency towards automation may actually help the storage of truck drivers in the industry. Even if trucks are capable of driving themselves, they will still need human oversight. Many shippers fear cargo theft, so it seems unlikely that they would allow goods to travel unguarded. With a change in responsibilities, we could see automation bring a whole new demographic into the trucking industry, but only time will tell. If current trends continue, we are looking at a shortage of anywhere from 165,000 to 330,000 workers in the industry by 2024 (LTX, CNBC). This could be disastrous for the economy, but it is likely to be good news for trucking companies moving forward. So long as shipping is desired and the demand for shipping exceeds the supply companies will be able to charge more than standard shipping rate.
They say you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Trucking certainly isn’t gone, and probably isn’t going anywhere, but this shortage demonstrates how important trucking is to business and to the economy as a whole.