KIRKLAND, Wash. — Kenworth Trucks Co. said it is partnering with Fastport and the Truckload Carriers Association in a bid to ramp up efforts to attract more military veterans to the trucking industry.
As part of their agreement, Kenworth is showing its T680 model at local job fairs around the United States targeting veterans transitioning back to civilian life.
Additionally, the company announced it will give away a 2016 T680 to the winner of “America’s Top Veteran Rookie Driver,” a competition being developed by TCA.
“There are great driving and ultimately career opportunities in trucking, and we wanted to lend our support to the effort,” said Jason Skoog, Kenworth’s assistant general manager for sales and marketing.
“The comfort and amenities in today’s truck is a stark difference from just five years ago, and we want to show our military veterans that driving a truck can be a comfortable and attractive occupation,” Skoog said.
Kenworth said it recently participated in a trucking-focused job fair at Fort Benning, Georgia, with 27 employees and more than 1,000 available driving positions.
The event was created by Fastport, which oversees the search engine JobMaps to make it easier to connect fleets with qualified local applicants. The tool displays a picture of jobs that best match drivers’ experience and passes right through their hometowns.
CEO Bill McLennan said in a statement that about 15,000 veterans are transitioning into civilian life each month, and they are “hard-wired for success in trucking.”
Preston Feight, Kenworth’s general manager, said he hopes showcasing the T680 at these job fairs will lead to newly hired veterans seeking to drive his company’s trucks. Regardless, he said the partnership is more than to gain exposure, it is “the right thing to do” to help veterans and the trucking industry.
Feight said this year was shaping up to be strong for equipment suppliers and fleets, but the shortage of qualified drivers “is a bit of a throttle on the industry.”
He also said he was hopeful efforts to attract veterans will extend to technicians, another profession hampered by an employee shortage that is projected to worsen.
Feight said becoming a technician can provide an outstanding living and one that allows workers to control their lives by obtaining employment almost anywhere they want to call home.
“This should be viewed as an elite job, not a lesser job,” he said.
Though he could not provide exact data, Feight suggested the technician shortage extended to his dealers.
“Rarely do I talk to a dealership owner who has everyone he needs and turns people away,” he said.
Recruitment and hiring of veterans for trucking is a key issue scheduled for American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition next month in Philadelphia.
During the conference, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, is due to discuss leadership and the benefits veterans can bring to trucking companies.