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February 21, 2020 12:30 PM, EST

Fleets Should Make Career Opportunities Known to Prospective Hires, Survey Reveals

 Steve Sichterman, Bob Costello, Bruce Evans, Priscilla Peters Steve Sichterman of Conversion Interactive Agency (from left), Bob Costello, Bruce Evans and Priscilla Peters. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Fleets should include information on career path opportunities in their messages to prospective hires, according to data from Conversion Interactive Agency, an advertising firm that specializes in recruitment.

Priscilla Peters, vice president of marketing and training at Conversion Interactive Agency, delivered the results from the group’s recent survey, which reflected input from hundreds of drivers, at their Recruitment and Retention Conference on Feb. 20.

Peters said that, when reading job descriptions, 34% of respondents said they are most interested in pay. Another 31% said they’re most interested in career path opportunities. Some 20% said job availability, while 8% said benefits. The remaining 7% said other, which could mean equipment, miles or something else.

While 49% of young drivers said they wanted to join the industry for pay, a significant amount — some 36% — said they wanted to join for career path opportunities.

“As an industry, we’re going to have to address this. We’re going to have to get creative with what the career path looks like for them,” Peters said. “They want to know, ‘Where am I headed?’ As an industry, we’re going to have to really look at how we’re messaging that. Today we’re not messaging that at all.”

Peters said such opportunities for drivers could mean matriculating to more responsibilities, such as participating in a driver training program.

Joining Peters onstage was Bruce Evans, executive vice president of talent analytics at Emsi, which provides labor market data to professionals who specialize in workforce development, talent acquisition and higher education.

According to Evans, truck driver is the most posted job in the U.S., with 7.3 million unique postings from January 2019 to December 2019. These listings were posted in 40,000 cities. (The next highest job listing, for registered nurses, had 4.1 million unique postings in the same time frame.)

Emsi also tracked growth in trucking jobs by region, identifying the Southeast, including cities such as Atlanta, Miami and Charlotte, N.C., as a powerhouse.

Bruce Evans

Evans says truck driver is the most posted job in the U.S. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“This is where the action is,” Evans said. “[The] Southeast really is an emerging region for these truck driving jobs.”

Peters identified areas of improvement in terms of job postings and drivers’ on-the-job experiences. According to Peters, 53% of survey respondents said the experience they were promised in the recruiting process did not match the experience delivered once they were hired. Peters urged the audience to identify the gaps between how their companies’ jobs are presented and how they are in reality.

“This is a takeaway that you’ve got to take back to your carrier,” Peters said. “Sit down with all of your teams, even your maintenance guys. Talk about what you’re selling and do a gap analysis. We have lost the trust of the driver from the recruiter side.”

Emsi’s data indicates some 23% of truck drivers are between the ages of 55 and 64. Another 7.7% of them are 65 or older. Evans noted that this age representation makes trucking much older than the average occupation in the U.S.

Host Seth Clevenger went to CES 2020 in Las Vegas and met with Rich Mohr of Ryder Fleet Management Solutions and Stephan Olsen of the Paccar Innovation Center to discuss how high-tech the industry has become. Listen to a snippet above, and to hear the full episode, go to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

American Trucking Associations has reported the industry was short 60,000 drivers as of last year. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the industry will need 1 million new drivers over the next 10 years. Conversion Interactive Agency’s survey revealed that 91% of drivers plan on staying in the industry until they retire.

“Because there’s no one cause to the driver shortage, there’s no one solution to the driver shortage,” Costello said. “It’s going to be a bunch of onesies and twosies.”

During his remarks earlier in the day, ATA President Chris Spear identified people with military experience as good candidates for truck driving jobs. Spear, who has two children in the military, pointed out the training and discipline young people receive when joining the armed forces. He described the trucking industry as a patriotic profession and said the industry makes sense as a next step for many service members.

“This is a family,” Spear said. “We take care of our own.”

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