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Supply Chain Solutions: A demographics disadvantage

A big contributing factor to the truck driver shortage is demographics.

Nearly a quarter of the current trucking workforce will hit retirement age in the next 10 years, and 8 percent of drivers are already beyond retirement age, according to Emsi, an economic data and analytics firm.

“The average age of drivers is in the 50s and they’re looking at retirement—and many signed off during Covid,” explains Gail Rutkowski, executive director for the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council. “The driver shortage is not an issue that’s going away anytime soon, especially if the current volatility in freight volume continues.”

The longstanding rule regarding driver minimum age is also an impediment to attracting a new generation of drivers.

“Truck driving is one of the few jobs that pays a decent wage for high school graduates, but they have had to wait until turning 21 to get a commercial driver’s license,” Rutkowski notes. “We’re losing the opportunity to hire 18- to 21-year-olds as truck drivers.”

Fortunately, government agencies sometimes recognize that this type of trucking regulation negatively impacts capacity and make necessary adjustments.

Rutkowski shares that the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes the establishment of a driver apprenticeship program for 18- to 21-year-old truck drivers.

This is an excerpt from the Supply Chain Solutions department in the January/February 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue. 

Dr. Brian Gibson is executive director of Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation and a former logistics manager.