ATA report highlights data on recruitment and retention
Demand for new, inexperienced drivers is likely to increase at a faster pace than in the past. Fifty-six percent of truckload respondents that currently do not hire inexperienced drivers say that they are considering hiring these drivers.
The Trucker Staff
ARLINGTON, Va. — Ninety percent truckload carriers in the U.S. say they cannot find enough drivers, says an American Trucking Associations report release last month, a fact that is forcing more carriers to consider inexperienced drivers.
The lack of experienced, qualified drivers is a key finding in the report designed to help fleets recruit and retain skilled professionals.
Conducted by ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, the “Benchmarking Guide for Driver Recruitment and Retention” is a 92-page report containing data and anecdotal information based on interviews with more than 50 fleets, which have 130,000-plus trucks and oversee more than 155,000 drivers and contractors.
“As the economy continues to recover, fleets need to work even harder to keep up with demand — and in turn — they need to focus more time and attention on recruiting and retaining drivers,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “This report shows how some of our industry’s leading authorities are doing just that.”
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Other key findings and conclusions from the report include:
• Demand for new, inexperienced drivers is likely to increase at a faster pace than in the past. Fifty-six percent of truckload respondents that currently do not hire inexperienced drivers say that they are considering hiring these drivers.
• 88 percent of fleets not finding enough drivers say that they are getting applications, but the vast majority of applicants don’t meet the carriers’ standards.
• Half of respondents that had their own truck driver training school and closed it in recent years said they would consider reopening the school if they can’t get enough new drivers from their school partners. However, they all said this would be a last resort and that they would prefer not to
reopen the school.
• Nearly one-quarter of fleets that have never had a school said they would consider opening one if the shortage got bad enough. In fact, two of the fleets surveyed that had schools just recently reopened
• The mean cost of hiring and training an inexperienced driver is $5,000, while the mean cost of hiring and training an experienced driver is $3,590.
• 91 percent of fleets that hire inexperienced drivers offer some sort of tuition reimbursement, with the majority paying the driver an average of $150 per month to a maximum of $5,000. Some fleets have recently increased the monthly payments to $200 and the maximum to $6,000.
“We found more and more carriers are considering hiring inexperienced drivers and are turning to truck driver training schools to help them place those drivers,” Costello said. “Demand for new, inexperienced drivers is likely to increase at a faster pace than in the past. Fifty-six percent of truckload fleets we spoke with said while they currently do not hire inexperienced drivers, they are considering hiring these drivers.”
Truckload Carriers Association President Chris Burruss said during an interview last March that he firmly believed trucking currently is experiencing a driver shortage and it’s only going to get worse in the future unless the industry changes its approach to getting younger men and women interested in a driving career.
“I don’t think it’s as simple as the idea that there are plenty of drivers,” Burruss said. “It’s about retention. If you look at what’s happening with the age of the workforce over the last 10 years, if you look beyond the churn itself and realize we don’t have a lot of new entrants because it’s hard to get drivers, period, for a lot of reasons, you look at what freight is expected to do and in five years we have all these massive retirements we are likely to see, I don’t know how you can say there’s not a shortage.”
And those factors don’t count drivers that might be lost to CSA, although Burruss says that either the predicted 10-15 percent attrition may have been wrong or “it’s just going to take more time to get to that nut.”
The concerns about a driver shortage expressed by many in the trucking industry may be understated, a nationally-known company reported during the spring, data which supports the ATA survey.
An informal survey completed by Global Insight’s Charles Clowder estimates that 32 percent of the drivers employed today will retire within the next seven years.
And that may be an underestimate, he said.
“We could easily see that reach 45 percent,” he said. “What we are also hearing is that many older drivers 55 and up may just pack it in if they can afford to and many can since some have lived frugally and some have pensions and other savings.”
Regulations are worrying even the best accident-free drivers, he said.
“Hours of Service and CSA appear threatening to the profession,” Clowder said.
What makes the situation even more dire is the fact that the replacement pool is very slim.
In the 25-30 age demographic, the number of persons who expressed any desire to explore truck driving as a career has shrunk 60 percent, Clowder said. 8
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