Truck driving jobs in the U.S. will remain safe from automation for now because of several tasks that can’t be fully digitalized, despite what some studies have claimed recently. An example involves the U.S. Standard Occupational Survey that classified truck drivers under driver/sales workers, which meant around 3 million truck drivers are in danger of losing work. However, the figure is somehow misleading because of a growing demand for truckers. Companies have found it more difficult to attract and retain workers even with higher salaries. Some trucking business owners have already sought help from staffing agencies to fill vacancies.
How Does Automation Affect the Industry?
Automation began to stir talks of massive layoffs not just in the trucking industry when self-driving vehicles started to emerge as a trend. The possibility of fully automated trucks, however, isn’t as easy as putting a robot behind the wheel or installing autonomous software for trucks. Humans are still necessary to supervise the trucks, but regulation seems to be a bigger challenge for streamlining the technology.
Driverless cars will need to be deemed safe before they can co-exist with conventional vehicles on the road. This process still requires more research and development efforts, and companies will need to convince government officials how it can improve trucking operations. In other words, it will take several more years before automation completely phases out human truck drivers.
Multitude of Tasks
Driving jobs in the trucking sector don’t just involve operating a large vehicle, especially for short-haul drivers. These workers must inspect truckloads, secure freight, observe safety protocols, and keep records of logs during each trip. That doesn’t include having to muster enough patience to deal with some inconsiderate drivers of passenger or private vehicles.
If and when automation reaches a point of displacing truck drivers, the most at risk will be those who work in the long-haul segment. As much as 400,000 truck drivers may lose their jobs to level 4 automation, but it may create new roles for certain job losses. In fact, a McKinsey Global Institute report showed that job growth in transportation services will increase by 3% between 2017 and 2030.
Job Growth in Transportation
Transportation jobs are more likely to be in demand in growing cities and urban areas with strong economies. The McKinsey report noted that big metros like Chicago and Miami are among the 25 regions that will represent 60% of job growth due to automation, which means trucking will continue to be a necessity in these areas.
On an individual perspective, Americans should consider upgrading their skills by seeking certification. Some jobs that only require a high school diploma are four times more likely to be displaced by automation, according to the report.
Automation won’t severely affect the trucking industry, but the growing demand for freight transportation remains a problem for many businesses. Some companies have relied on staffing agencies for recruitment while others have looked into apprenticeship and training programs. If you are running a business that involves trucking or delivery of goods, what’s your strategy for filling vacant trucking jobs?