- A trucking expert offered his perspective on the nationwide shortage of truck drivers.
- FleetForce’s CEO Tra Williams said it’s untrue that drivers are always low paid and poorly treated.
- According to Williams, this is a flawed narrative, and it’s fueling the shortage.
A false perception of truck drivers’ experiences and working conditions is fueling the ongoing truck-driver shortage, according to an expert.
Tra Williams, CEO of FleetForce, a Florida-based truck driving school, told Insider: “The problem is the perception that trucking is for people of low skill, low education, who are OK with low wages. All three are factually incorrect.”
Insider previously reported that, like other workers across the US, truckers are leaving their jobs in search of better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The lack of drivers has worsened supply-chain woes as e-commerce sales and retail demand soar, as Insider’s Grace Dean reported.
Conversations have long existed around whether America has been facing a truck driver shortage for years, Insider’s Rachel Premack previously reported. Some truckers say it doesn’t exist, while executives consistently underscored the truck driver shortage as one of their biggest problems.
It’s true that some truckers do experience low pay or conditions that they are unhappy with; one recently described their vehicle as a “moving jail cell,” while a local port driver said her salary was not always enough to pay the bills.
But it’s far from true that those experiences are universal. According to Williams, public perceptions of the job are contributing to the nation’s struggle to find drivers.
“Your average entry-level truck driver earns nearly double the starting salary for college graduates today,” Williams said.
Most of the graduates from FleetForce have two or three job offers waiting for them before they qualify, with a starting salary between $50,000 to $65,000 a year, according to Williams. And that’s after only five weeks of training.
Another example involves female truckers making six-figure salaries, which Insider’s Hannah Towey recently reported.
It’s also Williams’ belief that conditions for over-the-road drivers are not poor. “The inside of new sleepers looks like a hotel room,” he said, about the vehicles of shipment transport companies he works with.
Williams said: “Bridge the gap between perception and reality and on the other side, millions of young professionals will find a highly compensated career opportunity where they can literally be their own boss within a matter of months. Tell that story. Celebrate that.”
Another key reason exacerbating the shortage of drivers is a “generational and cultural gap,” which exists for all skilled labor, according to Williams.
Generation Z doesn’t view truck driving as “sexy,” Williams said. “It’s not insta-famous, it’s not [like being] a YouTube influencer,” he added.
Williams also said: “Electricians, carpenters, masons, plumbers etc … they are all more and more scarce because we have not properly celebrated the contributions they have made and continue to make toward building this country.”
He continued: “YouTube and Tik Tok influencers don’t expand the economy,” as opposed to truck drivers, for example.
According to Williams, the driver shortage is set to last years. “It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” he said. Williams added, “We will not fill demand within the next five years. Perhaps within the next decade,” he said.