Hunting for vets

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The men and women of the Armed Forces have all the motivation and tools necessary to move successfully from the military into many areas within our industry.” -Bill Graves, president and CEO, American Trucking Associations.


Military veterans have always been a prized labor pool for the trucking industry, largely for their work ethic, ingrained discipline, and ability to get the job despite the circumstances.


Now, however, the trucking industry is ratcheting up its efforts to recruit from this honored segment of the U.S. populations is an effort to get ahead of the impending labor crunch coming down the pike over the next few years as the so-called “baby boom” generation begins to retire form the workforce.


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(Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense.)


For example, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) just signed a recruiting partnership agreement with the U.S. Army Reserve that will provide experienced truck drivers for the military while also opening up careers to truck drivers leaving the military.


The two organizations said they would focus on recruiting commercial vehicle drivers into the U.S. Army Reserve, and recruiting members of the U.S. Army Reserve and those transitioning from active duty to the Army Reserve into careers in the trucking industry.


“Army reservists are ideal candidates for America's professional truck drivers,” said Bill Graves, ATA‘s president and CEO, in a statement. “By the same token, the Army Reserve can offer qualified transportation professionals exciting opportunities to learn new skills, develop management and leadership abilities, excel in a high-stress climate and work in a team environment.”


“This is a mutually beneficial relationship for the trucking industry and the Army Reserve,” added Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General, Army Reserve Command. “Together, we will build and sustain a strong shared workforce.”


The alliance with the ATA is the first of its kind in the nation between the Army Reserve and the motor transport industry, said Stultz, who aims to give employers incentives for employing Army Reserve soldiers. “We‘re into the seventh year of the global war on terrorism, and employers are bearing the burden when their soldier-employee takes a leave of absence from the workplace to support the war in Iraq or Afghanistan” he noted. “We‘re offering employers who want to partner with us the chance to gain tangible benefits by hiring Army Reserve Soldiers.”


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(Photo courtesy of Department of Defense.)

More importantly, the trucking industry gets a line on new driver and technician candidates in what‘s soon to become a very tight labor market as the “baby boom” generation retires and is replaced by a far-smaller population termed “Generation X.”


“Look at the overall demographic shift here - you have 78 million baby boomers that start retiring in 2008 being replaced by Generation X, which is comprised of only 45 million workers,” said Richard White, VP-marketing and communications for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Assn. “Basically, you have a lot of people retiring very soon and not enough people to fill the jobs they are leaving.” That trend is only going to worsen between 2012 and 2025 as the baby boom generation fully retires, he noted.


It‘s not all peaches and cream for veterans, however, as many are dealing with a variety of physical and mental health issues due to combat duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, many groups are taking the lead in helping funnel veterans to job vacancies as this report from television station KMEG 14 in Iowa shows.


The effort to tap into the ranks of military veterans by trucking isn‘t new; what is new is how it‘s becoming much more widespread and is now being coordinated at higher levels in the industry. Indeed, all kinds of transportation companies - from trucking fleets to third-party logistics providers and railroads - are trying to attached fresh blood from the ranks of military veterans, using various sites on the Internet, such as MilitarySpot.com, to reach them.


PaYS was developed to help the U.S. Army attract, train and deploy talented young people who want to serve their country, but also want to help secure their future success once their Army service is complete. Under terms of the agreement between USAREC and Cardinal, enlistees interested in gaining specific job training and qualifications will receive that training while in the U.S. Army.


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(Photo courtesy of Cardinal Logistics.)


As part of the enlistment process, recruits sign a statement of understanding of intent to work for Cardinal upon completion of their term of service and, as they near the end of their enlistments, the soldiers get an opportunity to interview with Cardinal for a specific job at a specific location nationwide.


“We see the PaYS program as the perfect vehicle for attracting, training and hiring outstanding employees for many years to come,” said Jerry Bowman, Cardinal‘s president and COO at the time. “We look forward to tapping into the incredible talent, skills and integrity possessed by our country‘s enlisted men and women who join us through this program.”

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