Diversity Could Be Solution to Shortage

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Milwaukee’s inner city has a corps of unemployed people who could help ease Wisconsin’s shortage of truck drivers, but connecting those folks to those jobs is a task that features many challenges, according to Gerard Randall, president and chief executive officer of the Private Industry Council.

The two largest obstacles are the lack of valid driver’s licenses and the lack of credible work histories, Randall said.

To tap into new markets of potential employees and overcome their projected driver shortage, Randall suggests that trucking firms should take a three-pronged approach.

(1) Trucking companies should become better engaged in the city’s high schools to better inform students about potential careers in trucking.

(2) Trucking companies should partner with local organizations that help people obtain drivers licenses or clean up their driving records.

(3) Trucking companies should target and recruit workers between the ages of 30 and 45 who are looking to transition to another career, and the good wages that truck driving provides.

"The greater the pool of candidates that have valid regular licenses, the greater the opportunity to advance them to start the rigorous process to get the CDL licenses that are required in the trucking industry," Randall said.

"Some of them may have been stuck in what some would define as dead end jobs," he said. "And they could make an effort to reach out to them and see if they want to make a switch and get the training to assume some of the jobs in the trucking field.

"If they’re looking for cherry-pick opportunities, those have long passed," Randall said. "There are a small number of people who aren’t working. And there are a smaller number of people who are in jobs they don’t particularly care for but would be willing to look at trucking."

Schneider National Inc., a Green Bay-based trucking and shipping firm, is trying to tap into populations or demographics it hasn’t worked with extensively in the past, according to Rob Reich, vice president of enterprise recruiting at the company.

Schneider is working through the AARP to connect with older candidates for driving jobs. The company also recently took part in a forum in Georgia designed for women in the trucking field. The firm has also worked with the military for several years, trying to help troops looking for work when they leave military service.

Schneider has tried to better connect with the Hispanic population through community organizations in both Green Bay and one of its locations in California. The company also works with its current Hispanic employees to spread the word about the company, Reich said.

"Part of it is to find them and leverage some of them to recruit back home," Reich said.

In addition, Schneider is working with the Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) English as a second language (ESL) program, to help some of its Hispanic candidates who need to polish their English skills.

The ESL program is another of the college’s outreach programs to work with both Hispanic and Hmong populations – populations that might not have considered trucking as a profession in the past, said Rob Behnke, team coordinator for the FVTC truck driving program.

"We found that individuals in the Hispanic and Hmong communities in particular were not aware of the fact that this could be a success in their life, and once one person is successful it seems there is a multitude of interest," Behnke said. "It just takes one person to break the ice."

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