The advancements in the technology used in truck driving scares people within the industry, but industries as massive as the transportation sector are rare. They don’t disappear, they innovate. The need to ship isn’t going anywhere. Until customers start building their own iPhones, growing their own food, or writing their own books, the transportation industry is here to stay.
With an aging workforce and a projected driver shortage of 174,000 drivers by 2026, according to Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Truck Association, the truck driving must embrace technology to appeal to younger generations who are increasingly hesitant to enter the industry. The truck driving industry must not only innovate to improve efficiency but to also compete with other job sectors to attract job candidates.
Truck driving isn’t the only industry facing lightning-fast technological changes or an aging workforce. Almost every job sector is going through the same thing, as it’s a reflection in a shift in the economy as well as an aging US population in general. The Baby Boomer generation was the largest of its time, while generation X was smaller, followed by the biggest generation yet—Millennials. A generation expected to outnumber Baby Boomers by 2019.
The millennial generation, born from 1981 to 1996 according to Pew Research, is known as the first generation to see technology integrated into their lives. The oldest members were elementary aged kids when the internet was made public, and while the youngest are 22 and well-removed from high school. This means the oldest of the next generation, Generation Z, are beginning to enter the workforce. A generation even larger than the Millenial generation whose eldest members witnessed the invention of the plasma TV, smartphone, USB flash drive, and the GPS navigation systems used in freight liners today. A generation destined to be well-adapted to the technological era.
This booming technological age is upon us and is likely still in its infancy. That means embracing technology now is not just an avenue to get ahead of the competition, but a dire necessity to stay in business and succeed in the long term in all aspects of the transportation and block-chain industries.
There are ample ways that technology will help the transportation sector. One overlooked aspect is it helps create better load-to-truck match for hauls. This increases the efficiency of drop-offs, the truck, the haul and makes for safer transports. Transfers are becoming increasingly efficient and timely, while owner-operators can use new technology to bid on jobs faster than ever. Even applying to drive for FCC has become easier.
The key to striking the balance between implementing technology to attract younger generations and managing an aging workforce as they progress toward a new chapter in their lives is through effective training. Older drivers might not be used to the newer technology, but think about the changes they’ve seen in their lifetime. Public commercial use of the internet began in 1989, just 30 years ago.
Of course, younger generations are not going to sit in CDL class or their truck for the first time with a perfect handle of the industry. Sure, many grew up with the internet or cannot remember life without it, but these technologies are complex and advancing quickly. Providing additional training will increase efficiency and smooth the hauling process while easing them into their new situation.
There will be hiccups, but that happens in every industry. For example, traveling via airline is one of the safest means of transportation, but the Wright Brothers would not have said the same during their lifetime.
Whether it’s an aging generation exiting the workforce, or a fresh generation entering it for the first time, both groups of people are experiencing some of the biggest turning points in their lives. Providing ways to ease them into it will only make life easier for everyone.