ATA Report Finds Shortage of Qualified Drivers
There is a lack of qualified and experienced drivers today, and this shortage is expected to have a large impact on the future of trucking as well. Due to this shortage, many truckload carriers are beginning to consider hiring inexperienced drivers, and they expect to have reimbursement programs in place as well so new drivers can afford to get the necessary experience to become qualified. According to the recent American Trucking Association (ATA) report, fifty-six percent of fleets that did not consider hiring inexperienced drivers before are reconsidering their decision and looking to open their hiring practices to include inexperienced drivers. And that number is expected to increase in the future at an unprecedented rate.
As older drivers retire and are lost to attrition, newer drivers are needed to replace them and there are simply not enough qualified applicants today to fill those positions. There is an estimate that a group of drivers, as high as thirty-two percent of all qualified drivers, may be lost due to retirement alone within the next seven years. When the numbers of those choosing to permanently leave the profession are added in, the situation appears even more dire.
Some of the other interesting findings from the ATA report said that:
- Most fleets that now hire inexperienced drivers have some type of tuition reimbursement program in place. The reimbursements were traditionally stopped at a threshold of $5,000. Tuition reimbursements are now being raised in some cases to up to $6,000.
- Average costs of hiring an inexperienced driver and obtaining the proper training for them is now estimated to be around $5,000. Hiring a driver with experience is a cheaper option at around $3,600. Traditionally carriers would go with the less expensive option but now they are looking at
hiring more expensive inexperienced drivers.
- Many of the reports respondents have said that if they had a truck driver school open in the past and have since closed it, they would now consider re-opening it. In addition, about twenty-five percent of truckload carriers that never had a school in the past would consider opening one to help to ease the shortage of qualified drivers.
The ATA report also showed that there is likely to be a future increase in the demand for new drivers. All of these factors combined may lead the industry to a serious shortage of qualified drivers in the future if nothing is done. It has been said that changes need to be made to the way the industry finds and hires drivers, and to make the career more attractive to help keep the number of presently qualified drivers.
The implementation of a myriad of Carrier Safety Administration (CSA) regulations has also played a part in truckload carriers ability to keep qualified drivers. Even the best and safest drivers are concerned that they will end up being regulated out of the business due to increases in these regulations over the last several years. Once experienced drivers leave the profession, it is becoming more difficult to replace them effectively with new drivers who are willing to take on the challenges of the profession.