National efforts underway to combat trucking staffing shortage

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 31, 2022

NORWALK, Ohio — Whether its supply chain issues, an aging workforce or federal regulations, experts told News 5 there is an immediate need to address the trucking industry if it plans to keep up with demand moving forward.

According to the American Trucking Associations, about 72% of America's freight is transported by truck. The ATA estimates that right now, they’re dealing with a historic shortage of about 80,000 truck drivers, and by 2030, that number could reach 160,000.

Last month, the White House released an action plan to strengthen the country's trucking workforce, which includes reducing some of the barriers to drivers getting their CDL and efforts to get more young people into the driver's seat. Those efforts include a 90-day challenge to speed up the expansion of registered apprenticeships and a pilot program for 18-to-21-year-old drivers which involves pairing them with experienced mentors.

At Ploger Transportation in Norwalk, keeping busy isn’t a problem, it's the other aspects of running a trucking business that those here say can slow them down.

“There is freight to move every day, all day long,” safety director Bob Ware said.

For owner Tanya Morrow, Ploger Transportation has remained in better shape staffing-wise compared to other trucking companies, but it’s still a daily challenge, she told News 5.

“There’s so many drivers retiring that have been in this business for so many years,” she said. “Definitely more leaving the industry than coming in for sure.”

On Monday, state Senator Nathan Manning visited Ploger Transportation to learn about new ways to help the industry moving forward.

“In the last budget, we put a lot of money into attracting young people into truck driving schools, scholarships,” he said. “It sounds like that’s working to a certain extent. Obviously, with COVID-19 and everything else, it’s not enough. So we need to work with our federal counterparts to see if there are ways to help these small businesses continue to grow and find good, young employees."

On top of an industry-wide worker shortage, Morrow told News 5 they’re still dealing with another shortage: equipment.

“The supply chain has become a huge issue for us,” she said.

Whether it's computer chips or replacing specific parts, Morrow said she’s just now getting trucks they ordered a year and a half ago.

“They’re not complete with all the components they were supposed to be built with at the factory,” she said. “Maybe a sensor here or there [missing] on the trucks, so they’ll have to go back to the dealership when those parts become available again.”

To learn more about careers at Ploger Transportation, click here.