Carriers should invest in technology to attract Gen Z workers, experts say
With the U.S. workforce slowly shifting from baby boomers to a workforce full of Generation Z workers, attracting and retaining candidates can be a challenge for employers, especially for trucking companies.
Truck driving is a tough profession and is often a last resort for many workers, but harnessing technology to attract younger employees is something almost any company can do, said Jamison Craig, head of growth for in North America Quincus, a Singapore-based company. software platform as a service for logistics.
Craig said many carriers are still using old-fashioned methods for things like route optimization, communications and even waiting time updates at loading docks.
“I’ve talked to friends of mine who are local carriers, especially the independent contractors of some of the big land service brands, and their systems are so old right now,” Craig told FreightWaves. “An example of outdated methods is route optimization routing: they’re literally in a break room on a laminated map, routing their deliveries for the day.”
Outdated tools for communicating with drivers are also problematic, Craig said.
“Some companies still use these pills ad hoc; they have no way of communicating with the driver, “Craig said.” So once a driver, like a small ground driver, goes back to the terminal, they say, “We’ve been able to get these other collections because we haven’t been able to receive the communication from you. This is frustrating, and it can also cause some rotation there.”
Where have all the truckers gone?
Truck companies around the world face staff challenges, according to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which said about 20% of all professional truck driving jobs are without occupying the whole world. The IRU is an organization that represents the global trucking industry.
The U.S. trucking industry is currently facing a shortage of about 80,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA).
To keep up with rising demand for goods in the United States over the next decade, trucking companies will have to hire about a million new drivers, said ATA chief economist Bob Costello.
“The industry is raising wages five times the historical average, but that’s not just a pay problem,” Costello said in a statement. “We have an aging workforce, a workforce that is overwhelmingly male, and finding ways to address these issues is key to reducing scarcity.”
The average age of a truck driver is currently just over 47, according to the ATA. The industry currently has about 2 million drivers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
While the word “millennial” has become synonymous with almost anyone younger, the Pew Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996. Anyone born after 1997 is part of Generation Z.
Generation Z and millennials now account for nearly half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the U.S., according to a 2021 Gallup study.
Millennials and Generation Z are “digital natives”
Spencer Barkoff, co-founder and president of Relay Payments, said Gen Z workers are “digital natives” because they’ve grown up with mobile technology.
“They expect to have well-developed technology solutions to control every aspect of the services they use and are not patient with clumsy processes,” Barkoff told FreightWaves. “However, 95% of truck drivers today have smartphones, not just Generation Z workers are demanding innovation in the way they do their day-to-day work. Technology can help increase the efficiency and quality of life of the existing driver community while helping to recruit the next generation of drivers. “
Atlanta-based Relay Payments is a fintech company building a digital payment network for the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries.
“Like any other line of work, drivers want to maximize their ROI and often leave the industry due to outdated processes that result in an uncontrollable loss of revenue or costs,” Barkoff said. “As a result, operators who can eliminate driver frustration have a real advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent.”
Barkoff said many truck companies continue to rely on drivers to fill out documentation manually, often making them wait hours for payments to clear up, “resulting in longer waiting times at truck docks and stops. instead of being on the road. “
“Many drivers often end up stuck on the side of the road because they can’t find secure parking at night along their route,” Barkoff said. “Technology like the one we are building can drastically improve the driver’s experience, helping them to easily locate the car park along their route and make instant payments that allow them to get back on the road.
Craig said truck companies can address route optimization, waiting times and delays by investing in fleet management software programs, along with technology such as script cameras, trailer sensors, maintenance fluid and tire pressure.
The technology is applicable to large fleets, smaller truck companies and independent contractors, Craig said.
“Regardless of the size of the fleet, the technology is there,” he said.
Check out the FreightWaves carrier update for May 16th.
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