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Young Truck Drivers Are the Key to the Future

Over the past few months we’ve covered the driver shortage a number of times and the current state of the trucking industry. Recruiters are facing difficulties getting the necessary qualified drivers to keep up with the current demand . . . and that demand is only increasing as time goes on.
The shortage and the continued need for drivers has forced the industry to consider new approaches. We’ve covered how Facebook can be used in 3 Reasons Facebook Can Be a Major Factor in Driver Recruiting, and we’ve examined the potential of female truckers in Could Women Be the Answer to the Driver Shortage?
One factor that fleets and their driver recruiting partners often overlook is age. Its one of the primary contributing factors to the current state of the shortage. A huge number of drivers are leaving every year due to retirement.
Simply stated, the industry needs an influx of youth to keep pace with the growing strain and continued demand on it. ATA’s data indicates that the average age of today’s truck driver is 49 years old (PDF). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is a full 7 years older than the national average (PDF) of America’s total workforce.
This is clearly a contributing factor to the current shortage. In fact, it is estimated that by the year 2022, the shortage could skyrocket to 160,000 (PDF) if the current trend is not reversed. The way to combat this is to recruit young people into the industry. If fleets are able to bring in younger drivers, they can address the constant struggle fleets are facing due to large numbers of retiring drivers.
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To capture a younger demographic, you have to know where to reach them.

It may seem obvious, but to reach a younger audience recruiters must change the way they approach the recruiting process. For many years, companies have poured massive amounts of money into printed magazines. It is worth noting that the older and more experienced drivers do still cite printed magazines as the preferred method for receiving industry news.
Overdrive Industry News Survey

Source: 2016 Overdrive Connectivity Study

CCJ Industry News Survey

Source: 2016 CCJ Connectivity Study

With numbers that high, it’s not surprising that many fleets continue to invest heavily in printed magazines with their recruiting efforts. However, in the same CCJ Connectivity and Overdrive Connectivity Reports we see something that these fleets may be overlooking.
Overdrive Reader Average Age

Source: 2016 Overdrive Connectivity Report

CCJ Reader Average Age

Source: 2016 CCJ Connectivity Report

The charts above illustrate what I pointed out earlier . . . the trucking industry is getting older. Almost 73% of those polled by both the Overdrive and CCJ Connectivity studies are 51 or older. The older generation does tend to read printed magazines, however as they continue to age and eventually retire, younger drivers will be needed to fill their shoes.
Millennials do read magazines and books at a surprisingly high rate, but for the purposes of driver recruiting, you have to be able to get them into the industry in the first place before any industry magazines can be effective. Recruiters will only be able to reach younger generations with industry specific media once they are a part of the industry and on the road.

So how can driver recruiters target younger prospects?

To reach a younger audience, you have to go where they are. Young people today are all over social media, Facebook in particular. Social media is hugely popular with 86% of 18-29 year olds using some form of social media. Of those 18-29 year olds on social media, 88% are on Facebook.
Who Uses Social Media

Source: Pew Research Center

Facebook has been a rich source for driver leads in our various campaigns. In fact, Facebook and Instagram combined are consistently the number 2 source of driver leads for Randall-Reilly’s fleet clients, only bested by search. Below is a breakdown of where we generate our leads.

Driver Leads by Source:

  1. Search
  2. Social Media (specifically Facebook + Instagram)
  3. Aggregators
  4. Display

Facebook offers a massive audience of exactly the demographic that trucking needs at this time. Targeting on the platform in conjunction with multiple methods of student driver outreach is an excellent way to bring new and younger drivers into the workforce.

Ways to Incorporate Student Drivers Into Your Recruiting:

  • Partner with a driving school
  • Sponsor student drivers
  • Specifically target student drivers

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As current drivers continue to near retirement age, fleets must get younger to compete and survive.

With a higher-than-median-age worker and high numbers of drivers retiring, fleets and their recruiters must stay ahead of the curve. Targeting young people on Facebook and bringing them into the industry as well as embracing student driver recruiting are both great ways to do just that.