The world was taken over by the COVID-19 infection last year. Like all industries and businesses, the coronavirus changed the dynamics of the trucking industry. It had a direct impact on truck driver jobs. The governments and industry’s response to handling the emergency shows that restoring normalcy will take time. Some of these changes would definitely fade away as the industry regains full momentum. However, many shifts are likely to remain permanently. The trucking industry involves a diverse spectrum of operational, logistics, commercial transportation, and safety changes during the pandemic.
Trucking industry and truck driver jobs during the pandemic
The US took the necessary measures to ensure safety for its citizens. Almost every state enforced the stay-at-home and work from home protocols. However, transportation, fleet operations, and commercial trucking continue to operate, albeit the enormously transformed global dynamics. The trucking industry faces the challenges of disrupted supply chains, restricted state-to-state transportation, and banned fleet operations. On the other hand, maintaining and preserving good health is the top priority of truck drivers while on the road. The influx in grocery store load and demand for at-home delivery has worsened the driver shortage problem. Here are a few significant changes that the pandemic has brought about in the trucking industry:
One of the biggest changes that the virus introduced was the adaption of health and safety practices. Educating the drivers and employees about virus prevention became the core responsibility of trucking company owners. It involves necessary precaution, preventive measures, and optimal use of disinfecting equipment. The instruction about social distancing protocols and implementation of remote work for back-office employees are necessary.
Assured execution of improved safety measures for driver’s safety and health, considering the higher average age factor in this profession. Additionally, the prevailing heart diseases and obesity in the employees of that average age group factor into increased contraction rate. Taking into account the health risks of this core workforce, many companies provided the employees with protective equipment. The practice of using protective equipment will remain in effect for an indefinite time.
The availability of truck driver jobs
The loss in business of the trucking industry meant that fewer trucking jobs were available. The number of interested individuals remained constant during the pandemic, if not increased. However, the decline in trucking operations due to lockdowns meant there were fewer opportunities to become a truck driver.
Social distancing measures and lockdowns also created a hurdle for the necessary documentation. This led to delayed processes and a shortage of truck drivers in the industry. With the lockdown eased or lifted in some areas of the country, this shortfall is expected to become better with time. However, the situation remains unstable due to the threat of the different strains of the coronavirus spreading at present.
Virtual and digitalized exchanges
The flow and exchange of paperwork among the drivers and employees at the pick-up point have been drastically reduced. The shift towards paperless and contactless deliveries is expected to persist for years to come. Instead of using paper bills and receipts, the payment practices have shifted towards completely digitalized and electronic mediums.
The transition towards digital exchange and payment is not just a sanitation and health benefit but also an efficiency gain. It saves time for the truck driver going to and from the security shack and warehouse. The introduction of digital mediums provides the trucking industry with opportunities to innovate and use the valuable resource of digitalization. The increase in agility and resiliency of industry are the positive impacts of the digitalization of the trucking industry.
Economic opportunity of Truck Driver Jobs
The increasing truck driver shortage reflected the looming recession of the trucking industry months before the global pandemic and shutdown. The drop in consumer spending and international ordering has reduced the demand for freight for non-essential goods. However, according to economic experts, the transportation industry will experience growth in freight volumes in the coming year.
Contrarily, the re-opening and ban-removal from the transportation industry will create an imbalance in the carrier capacity and freight volume. The growth will bring about an increase in freight rate. The transportation industry was presented with unlikely circumstances to work in. Still, it continued its operation during the pandemic situation. Experts expect more growth opportunities for the trucking and commercial transportation companies.
The pandemic brought about an interesting change. It presented the world with a new onboarding strategy of reduced in-person interaction. With digital video conferencing software and tools on the rise, trucking companies are no exception to the increased adaption. Many commercial trucking and transportation companies now prefer the virtual orientation of the drivers. It also allows the newly employed driver to complete the process remotely.
The remote orientation allows the companies to follow the protocols of social distancing while cutting down on large gatherings. However, it is crucial to maintain the right balance between the in-person and virtual sessions and meetings. Alternatively, the virtual interaction allows the managers to be more approachable and communicative for the drivers. Effective communication is one of the neatest results of virtual onboarding, strengthening the employee-manager bond.
The transportation and trucking industry continued to operate. However, remote work has become the norm for many non-driving employees. Experts expect the trend of remote work to remain in power, regardless of the vaccine development. They say a significant portion of the back-office employees will work from home even after stay-at-home ban lifts. The shift towards work from home will impact the need for office space, translating to cost-saving for the trucking companies and businesses. This trend provided positive outcomes for the companies that decided to downsize during the pandemic.
The Future of Truck Driver Jobs
Nevertheless, the temporary product shortage led to thorough scrutiny of the supply chain. The reason is that the demand for material sourcing has increased. The closure of brick-and-mortar stores has resulted in increased reliance on e-commerce platforms. Considering the benefits of e-commerce, the analysts believe this trend to have an increased level of permanence. Even if the impacts of the virus reduce, businesses will experience changes in consumers’ buying behavior.
Experts are still studying the detailed effects of the pandemic on the trucking industry. Even after that, coming up with exact predictions would be hard. For now, the best that can be done is to wait until things settle down. In the meanwhile, what can be done should be done.
The Bottom Line
The COVID-19 infection is here to stay. The vaccines are present. However, considering the unprecedented events in the past year, it is hard to forecast the future. The biggest change the pandemic brought was the decrease in turnover rate. The industry with one of the highest turnover rates experienced a drastic plummet due to the growing job insecurity. People faced layoffs and companies downsized. Still, the trucking industry experienced a higher retention rate.
However, the persistent flux in trucking industry operations makes it challenging to anticipate the permanent change. The situation also remains unpredictable with regards to the availability of truck driver jobs. Only time will tell which direction things will move into in the near future. On a positive note, we keep moving forward because no pandemic will stop life. In regards to that the Truck Driver School in Michigan is here to help you make the transition to a professional CDL holder.
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