There was once a time when private fleets had a clear advantage in the pursuit of hiring truck drivers. But the COVID-19 pandemic caused many disruptions in nearly every segment of the supply chain that we’re still feeling today.
Freight demand has been rising which means that equipment capacity and trained drivers are in high demand as well. But it’s not just high demand stretching available drivers thin, the trucking industry has about 80,000 fewer available drivers today compared to a year ago.
Even before the pandemic caused many older truckers to retire for health concerns, trucking was already dealing with issues of drivers retiring. According to the National Transportation Institute (NTI), retirement accounts for 54% of the driver shortage we’re facing today.
“These challenges aren’t entirely new, but the pandemic accelerated them,” said Jim VonAchen, director of transportation support for McLane Co., a major distributor of groceries and packaged goods based in Temple, Texas.
“There’s just a lot more competition in every segment of the freight and transportation business,” said Brian Johnston, senior director of transportation at Core-Mark International — one of the largest distributors of fresh food, snacks, and tobacco goods to the convenience retail industry.
The increased freight demand brought on by the pandemic isn’t the only factor in the increasing shortage of available driver though. Other factors contributing to the shortage are:
- Truckers are retiring
- Other industries are poaching drivers
- The FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse makes it harder for cited drivers to move from one carrier to another
- Limited seating capacity due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements means driver schools are graduating 30% to 40% fewer drivers
This means that private fleets will have to fight even harder to recruit drivers moving forward. Companies need to be more creative in what they are offering to drivers in order to get them to sign on – and stay on. Some companies are offering:
- Increasing pay rate
- Safety bonuses and recognition
- More flexible work schedules, including shorter shifts
- Programs targeting military veterans that utilizes their military training experience
- Apprenticeship programs for warehouse workers to transition to driver positions
“Drivers want to feel that they are heard and will have someone who will listen and act on their concern,” said Jane Jazrawy, CEO of CarriersEdge, an Ontario, Canada-based company that develops compliance and safety training tools for fleets. “They just don’t want to be referred to as a truck number.” That’s why, in the midst of this seemingly epic driver shortage, we’re actually seeing a dramatic increase in truck driver hires in the smaller companies.
Sources: FMCSA, QualifiedCarriers.com, Tucker Company Worldwide, Inc.
That’s why working with a smaller company, like ours, can help you stay a step ahead of the rest. It may sound like a cliché, but we value our employees, our customers and the drivers who are hauling our customers’ freight. It’s our goal to ensure that they feel like they are part of the Westgate family.
Westgate has always been committed to fostering long-lasting relationships with our carriers which, in turn, allows us to deliver the best quality services to our customers. See for yourself why businesses depend on us to improve their shipping processes. CONTACT US today!