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Trucking faces a rapidly-changing job market

Jan. 2, 2018
If you think hiring and retention posed difficult challenges for trucking last year, what’s ahead in 2018 may make things even tougher.

So let’s start with the shortage of truck drivers, which was expected to reach an all-time high by the end of last year. Finding folks willing to pilot big rigs for a living – and keeping them behind the wheel for a significant stretch of time – is already hard to do.

Now, however, the U.S. economy revving up and creating better-paying jobs that don’t require workers to be away from home for long stretches of time – or require them to cover a variety of job-related expenses out of their own pockets.

Then you add in the job-elimination threat posed by driverless trucks; for why hire-on in an industry that may use technology to replace you?

All of that above, mind you, is focused on dealing with the recruiting and retention issues surrounding just one of the many jobs within trucking. [Let’s not even get started on how hard it is becoming to find and keep truck technicians long term. Or even short term for that matter.]

Yet similar challenges are being faced by an ever-wider pool of industries these days and that’s only going to become more acute in 2018, predicts Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist for Glassdoor.

In his recent forecast What's Ahead for Jobs? Five Disruptions to Watch in 2018, Chamberlain focuses on a wide range of issues – from how artificial intelligence (AI) will redefine work to how mobile technology is changing the way people find and apply for jobs.    

"The U.S. economy experienced a landmark year, despite two major hurricanes and political challenges in Washington, D.C.,” he stressed. “Some 1.9 million new jobs were added in 11 months and stock markets reached an all-time record high. The nation's unemployment rate plummeted to a 17-year low, fueling a talent war in tech, healthcare, e-commerce and professional services.

Yet though the nation's labor market is strong heading, average wages for many jobs remain in Chamberlin’s words “stubbornly flat” and a stark divide remains in who benefits from continued job growth, with technology skills “earning a premium” with other jobs face “significant changes” with the rise of AI and automation.

Here are the trends he believes executives need to keep an eye on in 2018:

  • AI is Changing the Future of Work: AI and automation are poisedto impact nearly every facet of the workforce in some way, but two industries that are ripe for big changes in 2018: human resources and finance. Revolutionary new AI tools are complementing people's skills in both HR and finance, upending many established and easy-to-automate roles.
  • Modernization of Mobile Job Applications: Most of the existing applicant tracking systems were built in a bygone era, making applying for a job from a mobile device cumbersome. Job application via mobile phones is ripe for overhaul in 2018, yet has a long way to go.
  • Job Growth in Health Care, Technology, and Labor-Intensive Roles: Job creation in 2018 is being driven not only by innovations in tech, which will continue to expand within traditionally non-tech industries, but by significant demographic shifts such as an aging population. Many traditional jobs like restaurant waiters and truck drivers that cannot be automated easily in the near term will continue to grow and be a core source for jobs. 
  • Increased Transparency in the Application and Interview Process: While workplaces have increased their transparency in recent years, the online application process remains notoriously opaque. In 2018, job seekers can expect more visibility into both the application process and the status of job applications in real time.
  • Encouraging Employee Passions Through Role Experimentation: More companies are creating ways to support employee aspirations outside the common vertical trajectory within a company through role experimentation. By establishing clearer pathways for internal lateral job moves, companies can tap into the changing skills and passions of their workforce, help reduce turnover, and do a better job of matching proven talent with their most productive role inside an organization.

The technology aspects of recruiting and retention need to be acknowledged as well, according to Ira Wolfe in his book Recruiting in the Age of Googlization. Wolfe in particular places some of the blame for under-performing talent acquisition activity squarely on the shoulders of management, citing a lack of evidence-based recruitment and employee selection, an “unfair bashing” of Millennials, and job application processes that is completely out of touch with today’s labor and jobs marketplace.

Like Glassdoor’s Chamblerin, Wolfe also believes strongly that technologies such as AI, robotics and 3D printing will “revolutionize” not just work roles but how people live and play day-to-day.

He also believes three trends will “blindside” many businesses and workers within the next five years: 

  • Jobs will be automated faster than anticipated.
  • Automation will not be limited to low-skill jobs.
  • The impact from automation will disrupt work, careers, and jobs greater than expected.

“The world of work is changing exponentially faster than most people realize and that in turn will intensify and accelerate the competition for skilled workers,” Wolfe stressed.

That sure isn’t making things any easier where trucking’s job recruiting and retention effort are concerned.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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