Rocky Road: Trucker Shortage Reaching 'Crisis' Levels

Ask any expert about the current supply chain backlog and they'll tell you one of the biggest causes is a shortage of truck drivers. While trucking companies scramble to fill openings, they face new challenges that will likely make the problem worse. "We have actually had a truck driver shortage for the last several years, but in this last year-and-a-half to two years we are reaching almost crisis levels," says Sierra Nicole, co-founder of Elite Trade Academy in Dallas, which recruits and trains new truck drivers.

"We are short about 80,000 drivers, and if there's not a solution here soon, we'll be nearing 100,000 drivers needed out on the roads by 2023," she continues.

The shortage in trucking has been slowly building for years due to its aging workforce, but the trend accelerated with the pandemic, when retirements surged. Now, it threatens to get worse with the arrival of COVID vaccine mandates. The American Trucking Association recently warned that vaccine mandates could lead to more than one-third of drivers retiring or leaving the industry.

Replacing that aging and rapidly retiring workforce with fresh blood is where Nicole's company comes in. "The average age of a truck driver is about 50 years old, and when it comes to the younger generations, there is not a lot of education as to what is involved with having a career in trucking," she tells KTRH. "Our goal is to focus on marketing (trucking) to the younger generations, and specifically to women, to bring them into the industry."

Still, Nicole admits the current shortage is likely to linger for awhile. "If we do get more qualified drivers out there, there definitely will be some improvement," she says. "But there is a lot of work to be done in the industry, and it won't be an overnight process."

Photo: Mint Images RF

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