As technology finds new ways to make the business of operating a trucking fleet easier, the need for upskilling drivers is more important than ever. But for many companies, the question before investing in upskilling programs is – will it make us more competitive?
Here, we will discuss the importance of upskilling and retraining in the transportation industry and how it helps with driver retention and recruitment.
Upskilling and Retraining in Commercial Truck Driving
There is no denying the fact that the autonomous truck revolution is almost upon us. Some experiments with trial runs are already being undertaken in the transportation industry.
The fact is, there is no fixed date for the launch of this technology, and it will be a long time before it is widely adopted. It is likely to be deployed in stages across specific geographical boundaries. The objectives are to improve operational efficiency and reduce the number of human casualties.
However, autonomous technology will not make drivers obsolete. Most of these vehicles will require a driver to be present and actively drive during high traffic times, in difficult terrain or weather conditions, and more. Additionally, drivers will have to learn to adapt to new technology and may be tasked with additional maintenance and upkeep required of these new vehicles. Even though sensors can perform some safety checks, human intervention is required to deal with the issues once they get detected. In most cases, automation will be implemented on a truck trip’s long-hauls or interstate portion. Short truck trips will remain human operated.
This is a great time for carriers to consider how they can reap the benefits of retaining their most experienced and high-performing staff and what opportunities they have to offer those that are looking for more responsibility or education. There are many positions in the industry that continue to need experienced personnel including training, safety roles, loading, system checking, securing cargo, maintenance of logs, as well as administrative and even managerial roles. With all this in mind, upskilling is necessary to stay abreast of technological advancements in the trucking industry. In the future, there will likely be an increase in the number of high-skilled jobs as many autonomous vehicles will require a driver to be present for legal reasons and tricky road conditions. What is your company doing to ensure its best workers are on a path to success that will allow them to be proficient as the industry evolves? Offering educational opportunities, training, certifications, and promoting from within will show your people that you care for them and respect their abilities. This will lead to increased retention and ensure a steady supply of high-quality candidates for new roles within the company, lowering recruitment costs.
Since the demand for highly-skilled drivers will remain high in the future, investing in people through upskilling will be the right step for a trucking business. Apart from special training courses, companies can also arrange for the upgrading of licenses beyond the commercial driver’s license or CDL.
How Do Upskilling and Retraining Programs Affect Driver Retention?
With technological innovations around the corner, the need for specialized training for truckers has become a necessity. Retraining and upskilling are a priority to reduce skill gaps in your business. The practice also helps accelerate the pace of technological transformation.
Low skill levels or inadequate knowledge can lead to an increase in safety-related incidents and compliance issues. With more competent drivers, the overall risks are reduced. It also leads to a reduction in vehicle repairs or replacements and a lowering in insurance costs.
Here are some of the advantages of upskilling for truck drivers:
- Upskilling will improve morale and confidence, and this will result in an improvement in efficiency
- It can provide the right opportunity to advance career goals and provide a competitive advantage in the market
- A well-rounded training program can make the work experience more comfortable, leading to happier drivers who perform better
- It makes employees more capable of handling technological advancements and workplace changes.
Training and knowledge sharing also make an employee feel like being a part of a team that cares about his or her future. It allows companies to leverage new technologies more quickly and effectively. Moreover, it will cost more to hire a new employee instead of retraining or upskilling current staff members.
In short, upskilling is a great way to build a loyal and productive workforce that can save time and money. Additionally, it improves employee engagement and enhances the employee’s commitment to the business.
Upward Mobility and Growth for Drivers and Carriers
As automation technology develops, it will be necessary for a commercial driving workforce to stay updated. Drivers with the necessary knowledge and practical experience can advance to other roles within the transportation industry.
Such drivers can also play a key role in training recruits and offering practical insights related to on-road skills. Experienced truckers know the technical aspects as well as the details of company policies. So, they can run a comprehensive knowledge-sharing platform for new hires.
Additionally, other technologies are also playing important roles in modern trucks. Some of these are collision mitigation technology, electronic logging devices, and dynamic routing. Various companies are already finding these technologies effective in optimizing their operations. For example, dynamic routing allows drivers to stay aware of fuel-efficient routes while considering variables like traffic and weather. Since these are technologies that make a trucking fleet more competitive, drivers need to remain aware of and prepared for them to develop their careers.
Essentially, upskilling is not just about mastering the current role. It is the right way to develop a driver’s skills with an eye on the future. Since technology will constantly be evolving, drivers should undergo continuous training to stay updated, and a growth-minded carrier will provide it to its staff.
In time, more people have gotten used to the idea of autonomous vehicles and other new transportation technologies. As a result, these vehicles will be chosen as holistic solutions to major transportation problems. That will lead to a change in the workplace dynamics for everyone related to the trucking business.
In such a fast-changing environment, upskilling and retraining are essential for maintaining a productive and engaged workforce. Investing in targeted training and education is necessary to build a trustworthy and efficient trucking fleet.