Transportation Is Facing a Talent Shortage. How Will Employers Find the Candidates They Need?

transportationIf you’re hiring in transportation today, finding the talent you need in the coming years might seem a bit daunting.

More than in the labor market overall, employment in transportation related occupations are highly attuned to economic fluctuations. Acting as a bellwether of the nation’s economic health, that employment fell dramatically during the Great Recession. As the economy began to recover, transportation hiring outpaced other industries for two years starting in 2011. Now, consumer spending continues to improve and the energy industry is booming, meaning that demand for drivers is higher than ever.

Today, the American Trucking Association estimates that we will not meet that demand with the existing supply of drivers. This talent shortage will only worsen over the next few years, with only 15 percent of employment demand met by 2022. At the Indeed Hiring Lab, we wanted to get a look at who is looking for transportation-related jobs today, and how employers might broaden their sense of the labor pool in order to address this looming shortage.

When they’re searching for jobs on desktop, candidates in transportation are searching more often on the weekends and late at night than job seekers overall. But overwhelmingly, our analysis revealed that job seekers in transportation are keen to search on mobile — 68 percent are using their smartphones to find jobs, up from just 22 percent in 2012. While 50 percent of all job search on Indeed comes from mobile, it makes sense that drivers would search on-the-go more often. Making jobs easily accessible via mobile will be a crucial step for employers who hope to reach as many of these candidates as possible.

We also found that job seekers in transportation may be coming to these positions from other occupations. Earlier this year, the Indeed Hiring Lab reported that 43 percent of employed job seekers are searching outside their current occupation. Reaching out to candidates in Office and Administration as well as occupations related to Production may be one way for transportation employers to grow their talent supply.

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Job seekers in transportation might also be tempted by part-time jobs in this occupation. As we shared last month, part-time jobs garner interest from a diverse range of candidates, transportation job seekers among them. In fact, job seekers in transportation show the highest degree of interest relative to the number of part-time postings available in that occupational category, meaning that there is much more interest in part-time jobs than there are jobs available.

When we looked into where job seekers are located, we found them mostly located in energy-rich states like North Dakota and West Virginia. But we also found that there was high interest in areas with not as many jobs: Hawaii and Florida are states where overall interest is greater than the number of job postings there.

As driver talent becomes increasingly scarce, employers will need to adapt new recruiting strategies that connect them with the right candidates at the right time. Getting a better understanding of who’s looking for these jobs and how to reach them can uncover opportunities in hiring that companies may not have considered before. Developing creative strategies that account for these candidates’ reliance on mobile, as well as when and where they’re searching, is one way employers can plan ahead.

Tara M. Sinclair is an associate professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University and Senior Fellow at Indeed's Hiring Lab. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in macroeconomics and econometrics. Her research interests focus on modeling, explaining, and forecasting macroeconomic and particularly labor market fluctuations and trends for different countries. She is the co-director of the George Washington University Research Program on forecasting. As Indeed’s economist, she is developing original research using Indeed data on jobs and labor.

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