Not everyone thinks there’s a driver shortage.
There’s a different narrative. It’s not a shortage silly, it’s economics. In a FreightWaves commentary dated November 2017, the writer lays out the argument that this long-reviled boogeyman of the industry is actually just a case of supply and demand. It’s a good idea and later on I will lay out another one.
Of course this driver shortage is referenced in every article written about the transport industry woes but as Tom Peters, the management guru, has said before, the way we see the problem is the problem. In other words, it is our perception that needs adjustment. We have an economic problem and not a trucker problem.
In FreightWaves, the the writer talks about basic things we know about the trucking industry. There’s not enough capacity to meet demand. In a strong economy with low unemployment and new graduates entering into more desirable fields, what’s a trucking company to do?
Well, obviously truckers themselves have been saying “Raise the pay stupid! Better benefits, more home time!” and trucking companies have responded accordingly; however we still apparently have this trucker shortage, volatility in spot markets, and expected increases in contract rates.
We know that truckers have high rates of obesity and related diseases. There’s a report out there that truckers die younger and have more risk to job-related accidents than most professions. Along with the other issues of exhausting hours, complex HOS rules, and the new ELD mandate, we’re going to need to solve the basic economic issues not just hire more truckers by incentivizing.
The entire industry might do well taking a look at itself and see that the trucking of the future, “Trucking 2030”, will be a highly desired career with exceptional pay and benefits but would also have strict physical requirements and increased technical skills. The evolving skills would be attuned to the rise of self-driving vehicles which would still require a degree of human involvement.
In the vision for Trucking 2030, the trucker is restored to the mystery and prestige of an earlier era in American history. While the income may not rival doctors, lawyers and engineers, the industry could still capture those looking to pursue careers as plumbers, electricians and construction workers.
How does anyone do this? We need to ask ourselves “How has perception been changed in the past across all industries?” How do we change the culture our industry exists within?
The main vision of Trucking 2030 is that our perception of what it means to be a trucker must change.