After graduating from college, a young adult can expect to earn, on average, a starting salary of about $45,000. The caveat is that the new grad is laden with almost $30,000 in debt. The average young adult, without attending college, can expect to earn a starting salary of $45,000 as a truck driver. But despite the fact that the starting salary is the same, but no massive debt repayments are required, young adults in their 20’s are passing on the truck driving jobs. The reasons run deep.
Truck driving management hasn’t changed much in the past 30 years. Tactics that worked in the 1980’s and 1990’s simply don’t work as well today. This means that new truck drivers become fed up and move along to a job that works better for them.
Now this isn’t a problem that is specifically related to the trucking industry. But with little work experience, young people feel they may be better off in a different industry. What they often find out is that poor management is everywhere, but after a poor experience in trucking, they may never want to go back.
40 or 50 years ago people’s worldviews were vastly different. People understood that sometimes you had to be away from home for long periods of time in order to bring in the money needed to support your family. Today, being apart is frowned upon by more people. This means that the long hours, and days away from home and family, are not appealing to younger people; even if the pay is better than most other jobs.
Despite the prevalence of social media and despite the connection that people have through their phone, these long hours away from home are still a deterrent to those who have never been away from home before.
Many younger people want what they want, and they want it now. Immediate gratification is a deterrent of building a career no matter what the industry. But driving has a few more regulations that prevent those who would otherwise be interested.
For instance, a young person who is 18 years old simply cannot get into OTR trucking, no matter how much they love the industry. The 21 and older laws push a number of potential truckers into different industries. Suppose someone does wait, but then they have to spend a few thousand of their own money to learn how to drive and to obtain their CDL. They need a job now to pay the bills, and they can’t go without pay during the training period. Top all of that off with regulations that require no driving blemishes, and younger people who would otherwise make great drivers, but they made a stupid mistake in their teens, are no longer eligible to drive.
But it isn’t all just the fault of regulations and the industry. There is a certain amount of laziness involved too. Being on the road all day long is hard work, so often those in their 20’s will take a job that pays less, but also requires less work.
How to Inspire the Younger Generation
So how does the trucking industry, as a whole, show the younger generation that truck driving is a great job? The answer has just as many moving parts as the problem.
Those in their 20’s need to be shown the perks of the job, rather than focusing on the pitfalls. Trucking can be a rewarding career where the young person gets to travel and see the country. Every job is going to require hard work, it is not industry specific. And the only way that poor management will change is by having those “in the field” give feedback on what needs to change.
What barriers did you have to overcome to start your truck driving career?
Note: Make sure you read Henry Albert's article where his 21 year old son talks about his views of the industry. This shows that there is hope. but the industry needs more kids like Austin.
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