By now, the shortage of incoming talent to the trucking and transportation industry has been well documented. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is on record saying we’re 35,000 drivers short, and this could grow to about 240,000 by 2020. What’s more, turnover is approaching 97 percent.
However, the talent shortage in the industry goes far beyond just the drivers. While professional commercial truck drivers most certainly drive the American economy, the transportation industry also encompasses fleet executives, managers, technicians, financial experts, analysts and more.
Attracting millennials is key to not only the survival of the industry, but its ability to thrive as the lifeblood of the American economy.
When I graduated from the University of Miami in 2010, I had several career options in finance. An internship with Fleet Advantage opened my eyes to not only the opportunities of working in the transportation industry, but the excitement of the direction of the industry as well.
Truth be told, it’s not what attracted me to transportation in the first place, but more about why I stayed. I believe this is the real message that needs to be communicated to other young professionals who are still deciding where to plant their professional roots.
Finance is flexible. Graduates can work with numbers wherever they choose. But here in transportation, the sophisticated data analytics coupled with finance that is now being utilized to help the industry make its business decisions, is truly what made me want to stay and grow.
This isn’t about millennials versus seasoned veterans with a quarter-century or more years in the industry. I’m honored to work alongside some of the industry’s longest-tenured professionals. But I’m also proud to know that the characteristics I bring as a millennial have contributed to the success of the business.
Millennials grew up in a digital environment, with multi-tasking as a way of life. Our ability to research and think in a visual world enables us to add great value to the tried-and-true methods that many industry veterans have relied upon for years.
For example, fleet professionals are accustomed to spreadsheets. But with the sophistication of today’s data, oftentimes a spreadsheet won’t tell the whole story. One of my contributions thus far has enabled the company to present data to customers in different formats outside of traditional spreadsheets. That way, customers can see a bigger opportunity for asset management, with greater possibilities for impact to their bottom line.
This is a critical part of my experience, particularly when I stop and realize the impact I have on that customer’s business — and toward the broader economy as well. The more savings that we can identify in transportation, the greater the chance we can drive down costs for a consumer buying a gallon of milk, for example. In that context, there aren’t a lot of my peers who can honestly say they have that kind of impact on millions of people.
I’m very vocal about my views on the transportation and fleet industry when talking to friends, peers and professional colleagues in other industries. Sure, it comes with a few mentions early on about being in a time-honored industry, but once you get them engaged in a conversation about what’s really taking place in terms of the technology and data sophistication, they see the impressive nature as well.
I’m a strong advocate for this conversation to take place at the university level for other soon-to-be-grads still determining their career path. The more we can drive this message, the better off we’ll be at attracting other bright, young minds into an industry that literally keeps America moving.
About The Author: Brian McMahon is a finance analyst at Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management. For more information, visit www.fleetadvantage.net.