Truck driver retention and recruitment consistently top the list of concerns for the transportation sector. The industry will need to hire roughly 900,000 new drivers to keep up with demand throughout the next decade, according to the American Trucking Associations.
As millennials become more seasoned professionals and more immersed in their current industries, leaders at every level should now start thinking about recruiting the next generation—Generation Z. The oldest individuals in Gen Z are just now turning 23, and they have the potential to enhance the industry through their expansive knowledge of technology and desire to learn.
Recruiting these individuals will require different tactics than the strategies used to attract their immediate predecessors.
Because they are the first generation to have lived all their lives with immediate access to high-speed internet tools, they have an uncanny understanding of technological devices and the ability to learn systems quickly, then utilize them with extraordinary efficiency.
To target these digital natives, the adoption of more sophisticated technology and tools across the industry needs to grow to attract drivers, managers, technologists, and support staff throughout the next 10 years.
This increase in recruitment through technology will offset the big wave of retirements that has already begun and help fill the thousands of currently available positions in the industry.
Members of Gen Z tend to be smart and creative, yet often naively overestimate their own creativity, according to a study conducted by the Adobe Education Exchange. Mentors of this generation also discovered these individuals are not as well-prepared for adult work life as previous generations were at the same age. They found they lack real-world experiences.
Utilizing this information, the trucking industry must be able to provide more worker training programs to ensure individuals entering the industry feel prepared and well supported. Research has shown they’re eager for opportunities to learn and to be mentored.
Because they tend to be socially at ease, they thrive in mentorship situations, soaking up not just basic job and industry facts, but also wisdom, insight, and perspective from company trainers, seasoned co-workers, and corporate leaders.
A greater understanding of who members of Gen Z are, and their overall strengths and weaknesses, should help transportation organizations better plan today what their companies will look like a decade down the road. That can influence everything from the purchase of technological systems and new vehicles, to organizational structures, corporate training initiatives, and allocation of dollars to various line items in future budgets.
Gen Z, like all generations preceding it, offers companies a mixture of challenges and opportunities. Based on the research, the opportunities they represent outweigh the challenges. Companies need to begin thinking ahead and become ready to take advantage of what this generation has to offer when they start showing up for work within the next few years.