Instead of sitting at his desk and emailing potential collaborators, Grailing Jones, Schneider Employment Network Development Director, has traveled around the country to personally meet with interested parties who have aims similar to his. Through these interpersonal interactions, he has reached a diverse array of groups that are involved in recruiting a new wave of workers for the transportation industry.
Jones has been doing all of this in an attempt to address hurdles to gaining new employees in the transportation industry. According to Jones, the biggest problem facing the transportation industry today is the lack of awareness about the positives for those pursuing a career in the field.
“The greatest barrier, to me, is the awareness of possibilities in the industry, and it’s shocking, but people don’t know about the pay rates in the industry either,” Jones said.
There have been many recent improvements to driving a commercial truck, including air-conditioned cabins, automatic transmissions, and cruise control. In addition, advancements to technology readily accessible to truck drivers shrink the distance from their families, a common problem for many workers. They can now wake up and FaceTime loved ones who are hundreds of miles away.
Jones also said that drivers with only four weeks of training can instantly make $65,000, and there are also many possibilities for career advancement.
In order to address the “greatest barrier” to employment in the transportation industry, Jones has been meeting with key figures to network this information.
“I have been charged with the responsibility of networking our message,” Jones said. “Not only on a local and a state scale but also on a national level. I have been reaching out to workforces, to any groups that I feel are necessary.”
He said Schneider National has always networked with different players, usually by using different outreach programs. But now, he is specifically reaching out to every single group that he believes will be able to utilize the information and resources he provides. He has already made more than 60 connections with significant groups, and he said that was a “very modest estimate.”
Jones said he has been specifically attempting to network and reach three groups: the military, churches, and workforce investment boards. A month ago, Jones met with a three-star general at the Pentagon to talk about careers that are available for those coming out of the military.
“Being a military individual, being a marine north of 65 years old, I’ve also reached out to the military, to the reserves, the individuals who are getting out,” Jones said. “I’ve been saying, ‘Hey, not only can you be a company driver and make a darn good living, but you can also own your own truck. In less than a year, you can make more than $80,000.”
Jones also traveled to Jackson, Mississippi recently. There he made a presentation to all of the NCAAP representatives from the state. He said the majority of the representatives were pastors, or church leaders in their community, who could help deliver the information to their communities.
“We’re trying to help the churches help their parishioners find a different career,” Jones said. “We’re helping the underemployed become happily employed, and it just makes the community a better place to live.”
He went on to say that workforce investment boards are important to reach because those groups already have a similar aim to his. These boards have a close relationship with different workforce development groups, as they are responsible for allocating federal, state, and local funding to the groups; therefore, Jones is able to also reach a wider range of interested partners by meeting with different leaders on workforce investment boards.
“They’re trying to find opportunities for individuals, and we’re trying to find the next generation of drivers,” Jones said. “Not only that, but workforce [investment boards] will help pay for it.”
Jones said he has high hopes for the success of the networking, and that it will ultimately lead to combating the biggest issue in the industry today: awareness.
“There is going to be a greater awareness about the careers that are available in transportation and more importantly CDL careers,” Jones said. “I expect that with more awareness, there are going to be more individuals that go into the industry. The outcome, is that we are going to be able to provide the driving engine for our nation’s economy.”
|This story is from our regular series of articles highlighting efforts being made here in the Midwest to address transportation workforce issues.
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