Trucking Industry in need of drivers
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – News 40 has shown how cracks in the American supply chain have affected supplies for local restaurants, farmers, and pharmacies. One common denominator in the supply chain issues? Lack of truck drivers.
Taz Trucking general manager Erdin Zukic has worked for his parents’ Bowling Green company since before he got his own driving permit.
Zukic said their company’s age of truck drivers is around 45-50 years. He said Taz Trucking has 80 truck drivers right now, but 100 trucks on the lot – 20 trucks unused due to the truck driver shortage.
“We need to bring in a lot of younger people to help balance that out and allow these older drivers to retire,” said Zukic.
Taz Trucking operations manager Chris Fulkerson said the biggest challenge is selling the trucking lifestyle. He said the rare high pay that the job could offer to people without a four-year-degree used to could make up for the tough on-the-road hours, but the pay is not quite the rare appeal factor it once was, anymore.
“Now there are a lot more opportunities,” said Fulkerson. “There’s so much more when it comes to hiring care. We have a lot of great manufacturing positions. We’ve got a lot of great corporate partners here. People can find a very decent income without having to take that sacrifice where they have to go out over the road and live in a truck.”
On top of the truck driver shortage, Fulkerson said the backup of freight on the West Coast has been a challenge for them to overcome.
The Taz Truckers used to get their freight from the West Coast until issues in the supply chain disrupted the freight shipping process. Now, the company uses round about ways – ports on the East Coast or railways – to get their freight.
“These are less popular areas to drive,” said Fulkerson. “So that will continue to create challenges and getting drivers to go where the freight is, where we need them to go.”
Despite the challenges in the industry, one local college said the students in the career path are thriving.
Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College dean of workforce solutions Kim Myers said that for aspiring drivers, learning and working opportunities are both available.
“There’s students coming out of our program who are doing very well,” said Myers. “They are developing very solid careers with very significant wages despite a very short term training program and with little to no experience.”
Zukic agreed, saying, “It is a really good paying job. It’s a good career to support a family.”