Doing something about the driver shortage

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

For too long we’ve been moaning about the driver shortage with too few of us taking action to address it.

At the American Trucking Associations’ recent Management Conference & Exhibition, Chris Spear, ATA president, announced that ATA was establishing a workforce development subcommittee. The subcommittee will work with federal and state officials to find solutions for the driver and technician shortage.

Speaking at the same conference, Alex Acosta, labor secretary said that apprenticeships should be part of the strategy for addressing the issue. He remarked that although the industry has a fair number of training programs it does not have many apprenticeship programs. He said that apprenticeships are a good way “to ensure the pipeline of skilled workers for the future.”

Elaine Chao, transportation secretary, weighed in on the subject and said that the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration was looking at ways to deal with the shortage as well.

John Smith, ATA Secretary and CRST International’s president, is heading the new subcommittee.

I think it is incumbent on all of us to start looking for creative solutions to our industry’s people issues. Do you have someone in your operation who is tasked with addressing this topic and looking at ways to attract more veterans, women and minorities to our industry?

Are you talking to your legislators and other governmental regulators about changing the minimum age requirement for interstate drivers? You should be in contact with your elected officials on a regular basis about this and other issues affecting the trucking industry. If we want things to change, we need to make sure our voices are heard.

If we want the driver shortage to abate, each of us needs to do something about it. Supporting ATA in its efforts is a good first step. Beyond that, make sure the topic is kept alive at your operation because you never know where the next great idea to fix the problem will come from. We need some real solutions because the industry practice of stealing drivers from other fleets isn’t really a good solution. It just moves the problem from me to you.

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