Even as unemployment hovers above 7 percent, and 25,000 trucking jobs wait open for drivers, companies are still unable to fill those seats. As experts predict the industry to grow by 21 percent in the next seven years, companies try new ways to lure drivers and boost the retention rates of their new hires. Some companies are offering tuition reimbursement programs to recent trucking school graduates, while others are starting trucking schools of their own.
Truckers earn an average of $40,000 per year, but this often isn’t enough for truckers who are away from home weeks longer than promised by the company and forced to pay for expenses related to the truck. Often, these truckers are also not reimbursed by the company, and frequently stuck without a load and sit days without any pay at all. According to Con-Way, they are able to retain only about 40 percent of the drivers they hire off the street. However, about 90 percent of the truckers who go through their in-house training program stay with the company long-term.
Retiring baby boomers are largely the reason for the trucking shortage, but stricter government regulations and harsher demands by insurance companies are also to blame. Trucking companies are also reaching out to veterans returning from overseas duties to fill some of the empty jobs. According to the Buffalo National Tractor Trailer School, about thirty percent of the students enrolled in their program are veterans.
Schneider National and Werner Enterprises are offering apprenticeship programs to returning veterans, which allows them to draw on their educational benefits and bring home about $1,200 per month above their salaries. Con-Way allows student drivers to work on their docks, earning a living wage while earning their education. Con-Way offers programs lasting four to 24 weeks, at an average cost of $5,000 to $9,000 per student.