At an Aug. 18 hiring fair in Fort Benning, GA, and likely more to come, motor carriers Holland and YRC Freight are looking to connect with military veterans and bring them into the fold as drivers, technicians and other positions. It's no isolated phenomenon — trucking companies across the country are doing more to reach out to and attract veterans as potential hires.
Why? There are a number of reasons, says Jason Schenkel, talent acquisitions and fair employment manager at Holland, but it boils down to this: veterans' experience in the armed forces with more structured employment, operating heavier-grade equipment and working with family schedules that may involve some away time can make for a smoother transition to trucking industry jobs. It's "a win-win," Schenkel tells Fleet Owner, since soldiers returning to civilian life need good employment, while the trucking industry has long faced driver and other position shortfalls.
And there's something else as well. Veterans not only have the right skill set, they're the kind of people companies want to employ.
"We've found that these servicemen and women and the traits they have — respect for authority, familiarity with a structured environment, the personal responsibility they take in performing a job well done — it's a match right-on for the positions we have and the individuals we need to fill them," says Holland's Director of HR Stacey VandeVusse.
But as good a potential fit as the veteran community may seem, it may be up to trucking companies to seek this population out. "Veterans have the ability and the talent to bring any organization to the next level, but some of them do need help," Schenkel says — though they aren't the type to ask for it.
And meanwhile, the trucking industry faces other challenges in filling the driver shortage, notes Rebecca Brewster, president and CEO of the American Transportation Research Institute, such as a transportation infrastructure that's growing more inadequate, frequent congestion and driver health and wellness issues.
"The veteran population is a very viable cohort to help us deal with the increasing need for commercial drivers," Brewster says, "but there are a number of forces at play that we need to collectively address as an industry so that this is a place where we are able to keep the good folks we have and be an attractive career of choice for returning veterans and younger individuals."