Last month this page addressed the "easy way out" when it comes to solving the driver shortage: Pay them more money to compete with other jobs, such as construction. But there's a second part to this situation: Finding driver candidates in the first place. Just raiding each other and paying them more doesn't expand the pool; you need new blood.
We mentioned a couple of statistics last month that pinpointed Hispanic (Latino) males as the fastest-growing pool of potential drivers. They're expected to make up 19 percent of our professional truck drivers by 2014, while the white male driver population will likely drop off substantially.
Most everyone involved in this industry talks about the Hispanic market, but there hasn't been much said about just how big it is – nor has much been said about how to tap into this source for new truck drivers. Some current developments might help, but first, some more statistics:
Population – The 2004 U.S. Census placed the Latino population in this country at more than 40 million. They accounted for most of the gains across the southern tier of the country, from Florida to California.
Projections – By 2050, the Census Bureau says Latinos will account for one in every four persons in the United States – double the number in the year 2000. (That presumes that Congress doesn't shut down the border and/or send a lot of them back.)
Latino Truckers – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are currently more than a million Hispanics with U.S. Commercial Driver Licenses.
To summarize: There are a lot of people in the Hispanic market. Their numbers are growing. Many of them look at trucking as a desirable career.
There are more insights in the study Profile of the Latino Trucker, published earlier this year by this company. It is based on surveys completed by 150 Hispanic CDL holders at the first Truck Show Latino, held last fall in Pomona, Calif.
• More than a third of Latino owner-operators and drivers are under 35 years old. That's encouraging at a time when our overall driver population is aging (only about 9 percent of our total driving force is under 35).
• The Latinos are fresh faces, but with experience: More than half of them have between one and 10 years behind a truck wheel.
• Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they like their jobs.
• Trucking runs in Latino families: More than 70 percent of respondents said they have relatives who are drivers.
• The same goes for the Latino community overall: 84 percent said they have friends or relatives who are interested in trucking jobs.
That last one's a zinger. Those friends and relatives are new blood that can expand the driver pool.
So how do you reach this growing market? Many fleets now employ bilingual people in key positions such as recruiting, dispatch and personnel. Ads in Spanish-language local newspapers and radio stations, along with Transporte Latino, a Los Angeles-based Spanish-language trucker magazine, can help.
And there's Truck Show Latino, which is the only large venue for recruiters – and truck and equipment suppliers as well – to go one-on-one with Hispanics. This year's show will be held in conjunction with the Construction Truck & Equipment Expo. They offer a full weekend of exhibits (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22) in the heart of Southern California's inland empire. More information is available at (800) 233-1911.
E-mail Doug Condra at email@example.com, or write PO Box W, Newport Beach, CA 92658.