The ongoing Driver Shortage dragging the Supply Chain
One of the largest challenges presently facing the logistics industry is the ongoing driver shortage. Not only are trucks sitting empty that could be moving freight, but this inefficiency has caused shipping costs to spike. Raised shipping costs affect not only business costs, making goods more expensive to procure and ship, but the consumers who purchase those same goods that have risen in price, suffered delayed shipping, or both.
This industry-wide problem is more complex than any single factor, but a quick look at the age distribution of truckers paints an enlightening picture. There are more drivers over the age of 60 (22%) than there are under the age of 40 (19%). The profession is currently skewed towards near-retirement age, with the 50-59 age bracket accounting for 37%, and the 40-49s as 22%. Older drivers will continue to retire, some of them earlier than expected as witnessed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, further shrinking the availability pool.
The pipeline for drivers has been greatly reduced, with driving schools decreasing by 40%. While a standard Class C license is available to most Americans over the age of 16, the trucking industry has an artificial barrier requiring applicants to be over the age of 21. Hope within the industry is that the proposed Drive Safe Act will allow those as young as 18 an opportunity to begin training.
The issue is forecasted to result in 6% increased truck freight costs this year alone, and with expectations of the 65,000 driver shortage to triple over the next 6 years, relief will not be arriving soon. That lack of drivers remains expected despite a strong push in the industry to make trucking a more attractive career path.
Using new tools like artificial intelligence through IntelliApps such as Driver Pulse, thyssenkrupp is taking a new holistic approach to quickly attract and onboard drivers. Pre-employment screening now takes minutes rather than days. Onboarding processes that used to take three weeks or more have shrunk to one. Advertising campaigns are underway online and on billboards, trailers, yard signs and more.
Drivers at thyssenkrupp can access a variety of wellness programs like Virgin Pulse and Lifeworks by Morneau Shepell. Employee and Family Assistance Programs are available to all staff, as well as proactive retirement planning resources. By considering employees’ mental, financial, physical, and social wellbeing thyssenkrupp plans to empower drivers to succeed in all aspects of their lives, not just while on the job.
Recognition programs reward drivers with outstanding performance and attendance with $1,000 cash bonuses, swag packages, and all-inclusive trips for two. Though the driver shortage will likely continue to drag parts of the supply chain for some time, these improvements to the job will help attract new talent, retain the existing talent pool, and minimize the effects to thyssenkrupp and its clients.