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Recruiting Women Key to Solving America’s Driver Shortage?

What’s the solution to America’s crippling shortage of truck drivers? It may just involve recruiting more women to work in the industry.

truckingIt’s no secret that the United States is facing a major shortage of truck drivers. Right now experts believe the industry is short about 30,000 truckers, though that number is expected to increase to a whopping 200,000 by 2024.

Addressing this trucker shortage will be a huge challenge, particularly as the median pay for drivers is currently just over $38,000. Although long-haul truck drivers can earn substantially more, many truckers say the pay is unfair given the stresses and sacrifices associated with the position.

Increasing pay will be one part of shrinking the driver shortage, but some experts believe the industry’s traditional preference for men must also change. That could start with the industry making a concerted effort to recruit women, most of whom feel pressure to enter other lines of work.

“I think all trades are suffering from the same situation where everyone wants their kids to go to college and not get their hands dirty,” notes Ellen Voie, president of Women in Trucking. Voie says another challenge will be overcoming stereotypes which suggest that there’s no place for women in the industry.

“There’s still drivers out there who think women shouldn’t have a place in the trucking industry,” Voie says. “They’re few and far between, but unfortunately they’re vocal.”

In a recent blog Voie points to another major factor keeping women out of trucking: trucks just aren’t designed with women in mind. “The seats in trucks seem to be the most challenging part of the design when it comes to ergonomics,” Voie writes. “Without the ability to comfortably reach the pedals, controls and levers, it becomes an issue of safety for many people who are not easily accommodated while driving.”

Right now only 5 per cent of the trucking workforce are women. Changing that could go a long way towards solving the driver shortage, Voie insists.

“I would venture to say that if we could double the percentage of women working in the trucking industry, we could solve the immediate qualified driver shortage.”