Ah the millennials….what are we going to do with that unconstrained, unattached, idealistic, tech savvy group of 19-35 year olds that now comprise the nation’s largest living generation? 1) Embrace their ways 2) Demonstrate to them that the trucking industry pretty much meets every one of their requirements.
With the amount of regulations put on our industry and the speed in which technology is changing things I’d say our industry as a whole is a pretty flexible bunch so task number 1 is covered just remember “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” is not in the millennial vernacular. So don’t use it!
So let’s concentrate on the second task. How can we (the collective trucking industry “we”) demonstrate to this uniquely different group that our industry is actually really very cool? It’s quite simple really, let’s showcase just how our industry fits their personality traits (or at least the traits as defined by a variety of sources).
Here’s what we know. We know this group is the highest educated of any generation. But sadly, they are also more in debt at a young age than any other generation. And because of this debt, many live with their parents well into their 20’s.
They like “experiences” more than “things”. It’s that unconstrained, unattached part of them. If given the choice between getting a raise or getting more vacation days I believe most millennials would choose the ladder (don’t quote me on that, it’s just my personal opinion!) For those that can afford to live outside of the parental fold they are choosing to rent versus own…and not because they can’t afford it (which they can’t) but because they don’t want to be tied down to a house and the landlord will take care of the maintenance for them (which is extremely vital for a generation that is sadly lacking in mechanical skills!) This generation is waiting longer to marry, they feel little to no attachment to a community/religion/politics and they like change.
And we all know they are very technologically savvy. These technology natives (yes, we old-timers are the immigrants) are well connected with the world around them. Their social interactions may not be the face-to-face communication style the other generations like (shoot, I’d even be happy if they were better with the voice-to-voice interaction) but that’s all a part of accepting who this generation is and working with it.
I believe most millennials would love to work from home, walk to the local sandwich shop for lunch (which also has great craft beer for happy hour) and occassionally stop into the office to meet with the “higher ups” and to satisfy the need for commaraderie and water cooler talk (they may do most of their communicating with their thumbs but they still like human contact!). Most of all, this generation loves the idea of owning a business and being their own boss.
To sum it up, Millennials (or at least my take on them) don’t like to stay put, they love experiences, they want to work, live and play in the same place and they are comfortable communicating via technology. So now I ask my friends and colleagues in the trucking industry what job have I just described?
Yep. A truck driver.
How else can you travel the country gathering “experiences” of a lifetime, work/live/play all in the same place, pay off your student loans while getting out from under your parents’ roof and if you do it right (and have the desire) your chances of owning a business (ie. a truck) and becoming your own boss are pretty damn high. And for those that don’t want that extreme of a nomadic lifestyle just think of all the other opportunities that await in trucking. Having experienced the the good, bad and the ugly from the drivers seat just think what could be done with that knowledge?! Write new software to help improve the movement of goods, build a new piece of hardware that saves fuel, become an HR director that understands what it takes to be a driver, become a dispatcher that knows what it’s like to be on the other side…the possibilities are endless!
So here’s my cry to the Millennials (and a cry that should be shouted from the mouth of every driver recruiter) “Quit being an overeducated underpaid barista living at home with a pile of debt and get out there, see the country and learn about an industry that employs one out of 16 Americans (most of which are soon to be retiring baby boomers so the job opportunities are endless!) Oh and it only takes two months of training to become a truck driver (and many companies will pay back your cost of going through CDL school!)