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Integrating younger adults into trucking careers — Taking the Hire Road

Amid the well-known driver shortage, industry experts have mentioned making specific strides toward recruiting the younger generation, adults 18 to 25, into trucking careers.

A recent American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) report outlines the best practices for luring and retaining young drivers.

Count Alex Leslie, research analyst with ATRI, as a believer in this newfound prioritization of the recruitment of younger employees. 

“We have an aging driver workforce, with the majority of drivers falling in the 50-65 year age bracket,” Leslie said. “These individuals carry a lot of experience and skill with them and as they retire, we want to ensure that their skills are passed on and that there are the right people to step into their positions.”

With a background in quantitative and qualitative research, Leslie made his way into the trucking and logistics industry just over a year ago. At ATRI, he is looking to solve real issues by studying the statistics surrounding labor, wages and relational issues within the trucking industry.

Leslie added that many Generation Z and millennial individuals have acquired their own valuable skills and knowledge that can be brought to a carrier’s table. But they also want to know specifically what carriers can provide to them — arguably one of the largest differences between older and younger generations in the workforce.

According to Leslie, the main qualities the younger crowd is looking for is more than just competitive wages. It wants feedback and culture too. The younger generation desires a job that not only pays well but includes positivity, transparency and mutual respect.

“They want a mentor relationship where if bad habits begin to form, they want there to be conversation right away rather than down the line during a monthly or quarterly evaluation,” Leslie said. “I think these preferences are beginning to change some of the ways training programs are starting to look, which I think is beneficial to everyone.”

In speaking with younger truck drivers, Leslie said 84% mentioned company culture was important. 

“They acted on it too because when we asked young drivers what brought them to the industry, about 40% said pay, but roughly 60% said something else — ranging from work-life balance, long-term career stability, etc. and it all involved culture in some way,” he said. “Company culture is more than just being nice or running things on time. If it’s going to matter to employees, it has to be more specific and it has to set you apart.”

Leslie also stresses the importance of positive and transparent job advertising. 

“Many young people don’t know the industry,” he said. “When it comes to marketing and advertising your recruiting materials, the more transparency around the day-to-day business, the more successful those recruitment materials are going to be.”

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Britni Chisenall

Britni Chisenall is a sponsored content writer for FreightWaves. She lives in Ooltewah, TN with her husband, Garrett and her cat, Lily. Britni is a graduate of Dalton State College.