With the economy steadily improving, many companies are hoping for a quick rebound, but a shortage of drivers could limit firms' capabilities to deliver goods through heavy haul trucking.
American Trucking Associations estimates a need for 20,000 to 25,000 big-shipment, long-distance truck drivers. This figure is expected to grow as the demand for LTL Shipping increases and the baby boomer generation goes into retirement.
"A lot of the veteran drivers, 40-, 50-, 60-year-old drivers are starting to retire, hit that retirement age and there's just not enough people coming into the industry to fill those seats," driving instructor John Barfield told WMGT-TV.
As veteran drivers retire, there is no one to take their place. One factor that is contributing to the lack of qualified truck drivers is younger workers' desire to remain closer to home. New drivers can expect to earn $38,000 to $44,000 in their first year, but the long hours and time away from their families does not appeal to those entering the job market, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Demand continues to grow
Demand is likely to continue to increase as businesses look to enhance customer experiences with faster, more accessible delivery options. Supply Chain Management Review notes that 2013 will likely bring a renewed focus on improving service levels in areas like logistics as a way to enhance customers' experiences. Even in the B2B sector, organizations are looking to streamline operations to save costs, which means leaner inventories and increased focus on building cooperative relationships with suppliers and transportation providers.
The additional delivery options are likely to create even more demand for qualified drivers. A recent report from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics estimates that by the year 2016, there will be 115,000 new jobs created in the trucking industry, WMGT-TV reported. Current rate enrollment in driving schools will fill 10 percent of those vacancies, creating a scarcity of drivers and pushing transportation costs up.
"Carriers are competing with each other for those individuals who are high-quality truck drivers," said Walter Heinritzi, executive director of the Michigan Trucking Association. "The demand for freight will continue to increase -- that's pretty much acknowledged -- but the number of people choosing to go into trucking has not increased."