There have been a number of articles reporting that millennials are passing up high-paying jobs in trucking. As someone who comes from a long line of blue collar men — including truckers — I find it a bit odd that millennials aren’t eating up the chance for six-figure income.
Two other trucking industry benefits that fall right in line with millennials are flexible hours and the opportunity for travel. There are many trucking jobs that are local and come with the ability to be home every night — perfect for raising a young family. For those with wanderlust, which is common amongst millennials, a job traveling the open roads — potentially cross country — seems like a perfect fit.
Combine these benefits with a strong average pay and it would seem like a no-brainer career choice for the average millennial, yet the industry is having issues filling positions.
Those familiar with me might ask what a millennial working a white collar job in healthcare knows about driving big rigs – and why does he even care?
The answer is simple: family legacy.
When my father was young, he worked for Merse Brothers Trucking, a trucking company in Edgewater, New Jersey owned by five brothers, including my father’s father.
Time went on and the company split up. My father went into business with a construction company that he has been with for decades now. The Merse family trucking company itself is still in operation today, with a small fleet out of Paterson.
My father still has a passion for classic Mack trucks and, come to think of it, he still owes me a Mack dog off the front of one his rigs.
When I see a classic R-Model Mack roaring down the New Jersey Turnpike or making the slow ascent up the hills of Route 23, I instinctually can’t take my eyes off of it, but I notice most of my friends don’’t share the same interest.
So what is stopping millennials from climbing up in a semi and hauling tail?
My interest in big trucks doesn’t qualify me as an expert on the industry by any means, so I reached out to a few people immersed in commercial truck driving to get some insights on the matter.
I found out that like any industry, the best trucking jobs aren’t as easy to come by as I was envisioning.
“In my experience speaking to younger drivers, the idea of having to begin their career in the industry taking on long hauls and over-the-road routes is an enormous turnoff to many,” said Jake Tully, Head of Creative Department, TruckDrivingJobs.com. “Many young drivers are under the impression that they can secure a local position right out of the gate. This is simply not going to be the case for most new drivers.”
“Like any industry, one has to work their way through the ranks before they can find that ideal position,” said Tully.
The idea of working one’s way up the ladder has transcended the existence of employment, and it’s very rare that a person just walks into the top spot of any job, fresh out of the gate. But is there another deterrent that hides at the bottom a bottle?
Millennials love to drink
According to Nielson, millennials of legal age account for 35 percent of beer consumption and 32 percent of spirit consumption in the U.S., despite only representing a quarter of adults over 21 years old. Furthermore, the Wine Market Council found that millennials consume 42 percent of all wine in the U.S.
“I deal with this problem everyday — both as a trucking company owner in Dayton, Ohio and as an elected member of the Dayton Board of Education,” Adil Baguirov of American Power LLC told me. “Not enough young people [are] interested or motivated to pass CDL driving tests, regular drug and alcohol tests, [or] keep drivers logs, etc.”
Many of my friends are thankful that I’m always the designated driver, and I’m spoiled over it: a few bucks for gas and parking, choice of music for the trip and usually my meals are covered.
But if I’m being honest, I never really noticed just how saturated my peers are in alcohol (and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all).
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