SWANA: Truck driver shortage at 'highest level'

Recent trucking statistics show that the shortage of over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers in the U.S. is at the highest level it has been in 15 years—a driver shortage mirrored in the waste collection industry.

According to a new report, "Recruiting Personnel for Solid Waste Collection Services," by the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) Applied Research Foundation (ARF), causes for the driver shortage include an aging workforce, occupational danger, increased demand for trucking services because of industry growth and low participation of women in the industry.

The report estimates that about 1,000 women are employed in waste and recyclables collection, which equates to about 1 percent of the 116,000 sanitation workers in the U.S.

“This report highlights the potential for women to play an increasingly important role in the provision of solid waste collection services and the valuable benefits that these jobs offer—such as regular hours, no time away from home and the universal and permanent need for skilled employees in this industry,” says Jeremy O’Brien, SWANA’s director of applied research.

The report reviews several recruitment programs instituted by companies and organizations to attract new drivers. These programs include strategies such as training and working one-on-one with employees who are studying for the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) exams, as well as paying for the costs of the exam. Another strategy is to target the hiring of persons who were formerly incarcerated.