Webinar Q&A: “ATRI’s Findings on Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Younger Adults in Trucking”

Did you have a chance to attend our recent webinar, “ATRI’s Findings on Recruiting, Training, and Retaining Younger Adults in Trucking”? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time, so our guest presenter, Alex Leslie, Research Associate with the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post.

If you weren’t able to join the webinar live, don’t worry – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: The younger drivers will not be able to carry hazardous materials, right?

Answer: That is correct. You can read more in the Federal Register here. “An apprentice may not transport passengers or hazardous materials… while participating in the pilot program, regardless of any license endorsements held,” and “the apprentice is still considered to be participating in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program … until the driver reaches the age of 21.”


Question: I am seeing a lot of younger drivers actually wanting a better quality of life instead of pay. Have you or anyone else among ATRI noticed the same?

Answer: Absolutely. We found that 40 percent of younger drivers consider pay the most important factor when entering the industry, but that means that 60 percent of younger drivers consider something other than pay to be most important. Younger drivers’ other top answers – 15 percent said career path, 14 percent said love of driving, 10 percent said work/life balance, and 8 percent said benefits – show their interest in prioritizing a stable career that allows them to grow on and off the job.


Question: Any thoughts on where/how to reach younger drivers to recruit?

Answer: Recruitment outreach will vary by carrier size and needs. Working with teachers and counselors at the high school or technical college level is a great way to get students interested in the industry early. Outreach to community organizations can be a useful way to reach drivers in certain areas or demographic groups. In both schools and communities, success depends on making real connections with leaders. Social media can be an effective way to reach younger adults, but the key to doing this well is to understand the platform in question: every social media platform has its own conventions. Finally, younger adults need to be able to find carriers too. This means that carriers seeking younger drivers should post information online that directly addresses younger adults with transparent, specific information about this career path.


Question: Has ATRI done any research on optimal work/life balance wanted by drivers? Or research on the optimal schedule preferred by this generation of drivers?

Answer: Not yet! I encourage anyone interested in this issue to share their perspective in ATRI’s Top Industry Issues survey: https://www.research.net/r/2022-Top-Industry-Issues


Question: Do you know of an employer who is doing a great job at attracting younger drivers? If so, are they willing to share some of their successes?

Answer: Much of our research in this report is based on detailed interviews with carriers who have been successful at attracting younger drivers: we evaluated their methods and identified best practices. I encourage anyone interested to check out the full report for more details and anecdotes specific to their carrier’s circumstances.


Question: Are you suggesting that we’re seeing younger drivers gravitating towards home daily and regional positions vs OTR?

Answer: Certainly we see a significant portion of younger drivers preferring home daily and regional positions (or intending to shift to them after a life milestone like having children). There are still plenty of younger adults interested in OTR, but it’s important to emphasize that many of these drivers share the same concerns or priorities: many still prefer home time regularity, career stability, and opportunity to grow.


Question: From my experience younger drivers are more hesitant to accept runs/routes that have physical duties involved. Has ATRI picked up if others have experienced this?

Answer: Numerous younger drivers shared that non-driving duties made their job more enjoyable by providing variety, personal interaction, or a better sense of how their role fits into the broader supply chain. That will vary based on the amount of physical duties in question and from driver to driver, but we didn’t ask about that issue specifically.


Interested in learning from similar resources? Check out these on-demand webinars: 


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