Supply Chain Labor Shortages Aren’t Going Away, How Can We Meet the Challenge Ahead?
Written by Mike Shindelar, CEO, DP Techlink
November 11, 2021
“Advances in logistics technology will be one of the leading solution providers going forward.”
On a recent trip my wife and I made back to Iowa from Teas, driving up Interstate 35 there were a couple of things that really stood out to me. One was just how many semis there are constantly on the road moving “stuff” from one place to another. The second was that every corporate trucking firm had an advertisement on the back of their trailers stating that they are looking for additional drivers. Drivers Wanted!
Turn on the news, listen to the radio, drive down the street in any city in the country… the common denominator is businesses are looking for help. The majority of our customers tell us that the largest hurdle for them in the foreseeable future is labor, or rather the lack thereof. At the forefront of this tidal wave of a labor shortage are Truck Drivers.
These observations spurred me to do a little bit of research, so here are a few facts:
- Over 68% of all freight is moved on US highways by trucks.
- There is currently a driver shortage of 48,000 to 50,000 drivers. At this rate, we are projecting a shortage of 330,000 truck drivers by 2024.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old… which means that over the next decade, many of these drivers will be retiring.
- Only 6% of all truck drivers are women.
- You must be 21 years of age to hold an Interstate Commercial Drivers License in the U.S.
So how do we solve this problem? Being it is such a complex issue, there is no one solution. There are multiple options, here are but a few:
INCREASE DRIVER PAY AND BENEFITS
In many situations, companies are offering starting wages in the 6-figure rage with large signing bonuses bundled with comprehensive benefit packages. As we’re all learning, higher pay and better benefits are the best way for any industry to attract and retain talent – truck drivers are no different.
LOWER REGULATED INTERSTATE DRIVING AGE
The 18- to 20-year-old age group has the highest unemployment rate of all groups. Requiring that a commercial driver be 21 currently eliminates this large group of potential drivers. Fortunately, just last week several U.S. Senators introduced legislation proposing exactly this. We also need to ensure these younger drivers are permitted to transport cargo coming off of ships at port, something they are currently not allowed to do.
TARGET WOMEN, MINORITIES, AND VETERANS
Targeting recruiting at these three groups who are significantly underrepresented in truck driver demographics greatly increases the number of potential drivers.
Using technology, all the way from enhanced software to Autonomous Trucking, increases efficiencies and creates a need for fewer drivers – which will help us meet this shortage head-on. As this area continues to evolve, the greatest gains can be achieved here.
With the present and the future projected shortages, this issue is not going away easily or quickly. Looking at all options and thinking outside of the box is going to be required to solve this problem. What we have always done is no longer working, and it’s time for us all to adapt. My belief is that advances in logistics technology will be one of the leading solution providers going forward.