Almost everything people use comes by truck at some point in its journey from creation to consumer. And as the economy grows, so is the demand for goods. But there is a situation developing in the transportation industry that will impact on that supply of goods and ultimately their price – a truck driver shortage.
Between the increase in demand, an aging workforce and high driver turnover, it is creating the perfect storm … transportation shortages in the supply chain. And most experts agree that driverless technology is still at least ten years away in this industry – if it ever comes to fruition at all.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) reported recently they have 60,000 truck driving positions open in just their organization, and they forecast that number to increase to around 174,000 by 2026 unless an intervention is made to the industry soon. The Bureau of Labor Statistics echoes the message of the ATA by predicting 108,400 new drivers will be needed between 2016 and 2026 to not only fill vacancies created from drivers retiring, but to also fill newly-created positions needed to meet the increased demand for goods and products. O*NET predicts the industry will need up to 213,500 during the same 10-year period.
However, there are some initiatives in place right now and others in the works to help alleviate the shortage of commercial truck drivers. For example, there is a bill before Congress to lower the age that commercial truck drivers can cross state lines from age 21 down to 18.
Recently Swift, a large 16,000 truck Phoenix-based transportation company, became a participant in the United States Military Apprenticeship Program where military members undergo a commercial truck driving program one year before getting out so they can get a truck driving job right away after transitioning.
Holland, another large trucking company based out of Michigan, recently partnered with the Department of Labor and the VA to create their own apprenticeship program for veterans. Veterans already having a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) work with trainers to build up and meet their miles-driven requirement and earn any CDL endorsements they may be lacking while in the program.
Veterans not having a CDL yet enter into the Dock-to-Driver part of the program and are mentored by driver professionals to earn their CDL and the necessary endorsements. In both programs, not only do veterans get paid from the trucking company while in training, but also from their GI Bill (up to $24,000 tax-free) and they have a full-time driving job waiting for them once the apprenticeship is complete.
If you like to drive, see the country and get paid well, consider a career as a commercial truck driver. Not only will some companies train you while using your GI Bill, but they also have signing bonuses as an incentive to join their company.