November 10, 2020
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
Don Lefeve: The market for commercial drivers should remain strong for the foreseeable future due to older driver retirements, tight capacity, and the increase of home delivery of goods resulting from COVID. COVID has resulted in fewer commercial drivers being produced in 2020, compared to 2019. It is important to note that Class A Commercial Driver's License is as much of a requirement to drive large commercial trucks as it is an excellent safety credential for those who may not drive commercial trucks.
The biggest trend currently is tight capacity. What this means is there are too few drivers willing to move goods at the requested price. This means shippers need to pay more to move goods, which in turn, results in trucking companies charging more and driver pay rises. Pay has been rising, and commercial driving is a solid foundation for a career in trucking.
Don Lefeve: Technology is changing very fast, which is great news for trucking (and all transportation) as it's making vehicles safer. The next 3-5 years will see the expansion of electric vehicles, better safety systems, and greater efficiency in transportation networks. While autonomous technology is advancing rapidly, it will not replace humans anytime soon. Certainly not in the next 3-5 years. There's a lot of testing, security concerns, and limitations that need to be worked out. Beyond the next five years, as technology continues advancing, and jobs will change and be enhanced, but driving jobs will not be replaced by machines. Like airline pilots, the technology relies upon humans, and the human will retain a central role in the control of the truck because we possess the fastest, most capable computers of all -- our brains. I think driver training will always be required, and in fact, it will likely expand to cover not only the fundamentals but also incorporate more technical training centered around autonomous systems and how to operate them.
Martin Garsee: To enter the trucking world, a person should have a clean driving record and a clean criminal (not sure if there is a better word) history.
To enter the industry, have obtained a CDL, that in itself requires a "new" set of skills than driving an automobile.
Ability to communicate, you will have to communicate with dispatchers, customers, and other drivers.
Ability to work with minimum supervision.
The trucking industry operates 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and realizes that there is not typically a "set" schedule to work.
Martin Garsee: Many over the road trucking companies will hire you from any location in the 48 contiguous states. Companies that have more set routes in a region of the country, will only hire in that region. Most companies, on their website, have a hiring area located. Where there is a dense population, there are more jobs available. Where there is a port, there are jobs that have to get the goods from the port to a warehouse for distribution, which may be local or hundreds of miles away. Where there is a concentration of manufacturing, raw material has to be brought in and completed products have to be shipped to their final destination.
In large cities there are a lot of delivery jobs to retail outlets.
Martin Garsee: Technology has changed every aspect of the industry in the last few years. Many of the systems that are on trucks make them much safer.
Collision mitigation systems, Blind spot alerts, cameras inside and outside the cab, lane departure warnings, these are currently offered on the truck of today. We see these systems getting better, which makes the driver a safer driver.