Gen Z is looking for tech, the purpose of trucking jobs

At Melton Truck Lines (CCJ Top 250, No. 84) drivers can take their time home anywhere in the country. It was a big selling point for Zeno B., a Gen Z driver from Texas who joined Melton at age 21 in May 2021.

“He was able to see cities he never thought he could see. He said he is able to plan his trip so he can get into different national parks,” said recruiting manager Delaney Rea from Melton, during a TCA webinar this week on the changing demographics of trucking, where panelists discussed what Gen Z finds attractive in trucking careers, what Gen Z is looking for in a job posting that encourages them to apply, and free or low-cost, quick and easy things companies can do to attract Gen Z – the youngest working generation.

There are currently five generations in the workplace, and for every six retired baby boomers working in skilled trades jobs like truck driving, there are only two younger generation workers filling those roles. .

“As an industry, if we want more people to fill these replacements than welding or automotive, we’re really going to have to attract Gen Z and work really hard to make a difference in their lives through careers in trucking. said Lindsey Trent, CEO of Next Generation in Trucking Association.

Rea said there were other factors that attracted Zeno to Melton, such as its training and mentorship programs, career advancement opportunities and compensation and family culture, among others.

Zeno B. is a Gen Z truck driver for Melton Truck Lines.Melton Truck Lines

Based on a report from the Nebraska Trucking Association that studied a focus group to determine what Gen Z finds attractive in trucking careers, Trent’s organization developed a list of things potential drivers of Gen Z cares, including lifestyle, technology, environmental responsibility, giving back and, of course, pay and benefits.

[Related: Recruiters shed light on how to obtain and retain drivers in a demand-driven market amid a driver shortage]

Trent said the methods of attracting Gen Z are very different from those of attracting millennials and baby boomers because they are the most digital and diverse/multicultural generation. years) who will constitute the workforce for the years to come.

The trucking lifestyle

The nomadic lifestyle – living in a van or motorhome and traveling across the country – has been popularized in recent years by TikTok.

Trent said Gen Z didn’t realize they could do it while earning money by becoming a driver on the road with their truck serving as a mini house on wheels.

She said the companies should post photos on their websites and social media accounts or bring those recruits on site to show what’s inside the truck, from the sleepers to the technology available.

They want to know what they’ll be riding and what “creature comfort” it provides, Trent said.

But she said not all Gen Z drivers want that lifestyle on the road, so it’s also important to prominently illustrate your company’s different driving opportunities, three weeks at a time. to a week at home every night.

“It’s about giving them different opportunities. Do they want to see the country, and what can they see while on the road? Can they bring a pet with them? Can they have a mate? Or do they want to stay home and have a local job, or maybe they want to go out every other night? Thirty said.

Joplin Manuel, another 21-year-old driver, is home every weekend, which was important to her so she could help care for her autistic brother. She got a CDL at 18 and started working locally for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Now she works for Norsemen Trucking and drives the highway, earning the money she needs to support her family.

Salary is another factor to consider, but Gen Zers also want to know they have upward mobility – that they can become driver managers, recruiters, load planners, orientation instructors, etc. .

Zeno has become a driver-trainer since he hired, for example, because who better to talk about the trucking profession than someone who has done it?

Trent said Manuel was nervous about becoming a driver because it seemed scary to drive such heavy equipment. She therefore recommends offering a mentorship program so that new drivers have someone experienced to call on with any questions. She said carriers should also highlight their security features.

The technology factor

Manuel applied for his job using his phone.

Trent said it’s important for carriers to use technology to their advantage to attract young drivers.

Some of the tips from the panel include prominently displaying the app on your website’s homepage, offering a chatbot for questions, and engaging with social media and related websites. employment like LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor.

“It’s so important to have a lot of information available and to be as transparent as possible,” Rea said.

Melton’s website is the first place people apply, but Rea recommends that carriers be active on these other platforms because “you can tell your business story on these platforms, or someone else can. tell it for you. If you are not here, you are allowing someone else to represent your business without your say or your ability to help track this.

She said Melton asked her drivers who read company reviews online before hiring her, and easily nine out of 10 people raised their hands. Respond to negative reviews on these forums, too, because potential employees are also looking at this, she said.

Terran English, employee services coordinator at Melton, said video is also a big player these days. He said some of Melton’s drivers talk about their life on the truck, and the company offers incentives to those drivers if someone applies for a job because they saw this video.

Trent said the average Gen Z watches three or more hours of video a day.

“For us as an industry to listen to this statistic and only have one or two videos on our website, I don’t think that’s going to be enough. I think we need to focus more on video,” Trent said. “I love the idea of ​​having a video ambassador for your business who can share what they do every day.”

Marilyn Surber, transportation consultant at Tenstreet, said the technology aspect goes beyond digital apps, social media marketing and truck safety features. Providing digital processes for drivers to manage their work, such as filling out documents and communicating with the office, is another important factor, she said.

“You have to make sure that you make those adjustments and those adaptations,” Surber said.

Trent has gone further with self-driving and electric trucks, hydrogen fuel cells and the way diesel technicians use computers to diagnose engine repairs.

“Gen Z wants to see these investments; it’s important to them,” she says.

Environmental responsibility and giving back

They also care about “green” operations.

Trent said Gen Z drivers care about the environment, so it’s important to showcase any initiatives your company is working on to be a “clean” fleet. She has also launched diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“They really want to give back, and they want to know that what they do for a living is something that contributes to society,” she said.

Trent said truckers are heroes on the highway, and that can be a huge selling point for driving as a career.

English said Gen Z also had a better understanding of the supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shortages like the massive toilet paper shortage in 2020.

“If we look at the big picture and trucking as a whole, if the driving force stops for a day, we see a complete shortage of everything,” he said. “This world does not move without a driver. We don’t have an economy without drivers…I don’t think there is a job more essential than our drivers.

In addition to paramedics, police and others, truckers are also first responders at disaster sites, Trent said, transporting supplies to areas hit by hurricanes or tornadoes.

Drivers also help people on the road.

Melton has had several drivers recognized as TCA Highway Angels for saving lives in crashes, so much so that the company created its own program called Melton Blue Angels in which it recognizes drivers’ outstanding acts of service on the road.

Rea said it’s important to shine a light on these drivers on social media and websites, and that recognition can help get recruits’ attention.

English also highlighted Melton’s participation in Truckers Against Trafficking. Company drivers are trained to identify red flags surrounding human trafficking, as it often occurs at truck stops.

Melton is doing a lot of things to entice Gen Z into trucking, including an apprenticeship.

Rea recommends carriers develop apprenticeship and internship programs and work with local workforce development programs and the VA to attract the younger generation of drivers.

Melton’s fleet is 55% millennial or Gen Zm and Rea said she takes a very different approach.

“The way you go after those generations is a little different,” she said. “There are other ways to look at your model and think about how you showcase it to the younger generation… It all depends on how you can present it to them and highlight different benefits.”

About Aaron J. Williams

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