For years we’ve been hearing about the logistics industry worker shortage which, over the years, has had the worker shortage projection increase from a little over 100K when the shortage was first reported as bad in the mid 2000s to 1.4M jobs in 2018 according to a 2014 Fortune article. Now, not all of this is a driver shortage — some of this is a shortage of talent in high tech, analytics, robotics, engineering, seasoned managers, marketers, data analysis, and even human resources — but a significant portion of this shortage *is* a driver shortage.
But why is there a driver shortage, especially when the “un”official U-6 unemployment rate in the US, which includes all unemployed persons as well as persons marginally attached to the labor force plus persons employed part time who would like to be employed full time, is still 9.9%? (If you do the math, that’s over 31M people looking for at least some work … should be easy enough to fill a few hundred thousand driver jobs, right?)
Wrong. The shortage keeps getting worse. But why?
The answer is multi-faceted but one of the big problems is the double-edged sword of perception. How the general populace outside of the logistics industry views logistics and how the workforce inside logistics views the general populace. We will discuss both of these.
The first problem is that, in the US in particular, truck driving is seen as an unglamorous blue-collar job for those who are average, lack drive, and live in a trailer park. It’s not a job for the middle class or those who are part of the respectable community. It’s hard to get truckers if you can’t even get applicants.
But this is only half the problem. The other half is that truckers believe that their brethren should be like them — middle-aged men who like to share crude jokes in old-school truck stops and who fit the stereotype of the trucking industry. If a young women were to apply for the job, she’d have to put up with funny looks and crude, disrespectful jokes, on a daily basis. This is a shame, because now that the job no longer requires brute strength, it can be done by anyone, including a woman — who probably has better time management skills, a calmer head during traffic jams, and less tarnishes on her record (which is a statistical fact).
But, as per this great article over on the BBC on why don’t women become truckers, no matter where you go in the world, it’s the same. A woman driving a lorry gets funny looks and has to listen to unfunny jokes and has to listen to things like wow, I didn’t know women could drive trucks. But a woman can like driving a truck just as much as a man. And a woman who needs a job can be just as willing to drive one as a man. Especially if it was to be again seen as a respectable profession (which first requires people in the industry to treat others with respect).
If the perception improves, the industry can attract more truckers. There might still be a worker shortage, but it would not be nearly as bad if the industry was attracting applicants of both sexes on a regular basis.