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Combatting the Trucker Shortage with Education and Technology

Photo: Courtesy of Vlad Vasnetsov

Seventy percent of all goods sold in the U.S. are delivered by trucks. However, there is a severe lack of drivers, according to estimates by the American Trucking Associations. This deficit could have serious ramifications on the U.S. economy and consumers nationwide. To combat the rising need for drivers and keep the nation’s store shelves stocked, trucking companies must quickly take significant measures in order to maintain and grow the driver workforce.

A big misconception may be one reason for the disparity between available trucking jobs and those seeking employment in the industry. Lack of job availability is a prevalent myth about the industry, according to Ken Runnels, Swift Transportation’s Senior Vice President of Operations.

“We are the drivers of American life,” said Runnels, “More than 70 percent of all freight tonnage moved in the U.S., is moved by truck and, without trucking, all retail and manufacturing operations in the country would come to an economy-toppling stop. That’s why, today, there are consistent and significant employment opportunities in trucking.”

To keep up with the growing demand, trucking companies must employ new drivers daily. As such, industry leaders, like Swift Transportation, place great emphasis on attracting new drivers and retaining existing ones by offering access to cutting-edge technology and educational opportunities.

“At Swift, we provide the Academy training needed to earn your CDL,” adds Runnels, “the mentorship to receive real-life on-the-job-training and the opportunity to build your own career in any of a number of lines of business that could include heavy-haul, refrigerated, intermodal, dedicated-account, convention, flatbed or over-the-road trucking.”

Investing in the digital revolution

Technology is one of the greatest tools at trucking companies’ disposal to help grow workforces and ensure drivers are running safely and efficiently. According to Mike Ruchensky, Swift Transportation’s Chief Information Officer, the trucking industry has been experiencing a digital transformation over the last three years. Through the availability of tablets, workflow technology, phone apps and the Cloud, trucking companies can now gather data and open lines of communication between drivers like never before. Using state-of-the-art technology, trucking companies can send load offerings to drivers via tablet in a sophisticated, efficient format that assists drivers with trip planning, helping to maximize efficiency and driving time.

The technology currently available to most fleets is outdated and offers no way to create a workflow or validate data. This results in lost productivity and a reduction in driving hours. By forgoing the option to invest in technology, trucking companies are preventing their drivers from achieving as many miles and maximizing utilization, which directly affects a driver’s ability to make money.

Investing in trucker education

With today’s high demand for truck drivers, it’s vital that candidates who have no experience driving an 18-wheeler can be considered for openings in the industry. To meet this need, Swift Transportation offers Swift Academy, a program that prepares students for everything they need to know to be successful on the road and obtain their commercial driver’s license. Upon completion of the program, many students are offered employment, allowing them to take advantage of a fruitful career for many years to come.

In the fast-paced world of trucking, companies must stay up-to-date on technology and ensure drivers are receiving a top-notch education that leads to a long, prosperous career. For those looking for a job that offers stability, professional development and longevity, the trucking industry can be ideal.

When considering a career in trucking, it’s important to define expectations both of the employer and the employee. Those seeking to become a driver should fully understand the stability of the company, benefits, pay and expectations of hours worked per week. It’s also critical to understand what resources an employer offers drivers to ensure success.

Investing in drivers through technology and education is an opportunity for trucking companies to overcome the driver shortage.

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