TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The demand for truck drivers is growing as the world faces a global supply chain issue.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida ports would be offering incentive packages to businesses who seek to move their cargo shipments to help alleviate the supply chain problem.
Tra Williams, owner, and CEO of FleetForce Driving School based in Winter Haven, Florida said he hopes this move will highlight the need to train more entry-level drivers.
“We simply don’t have enough drivers,” Williams said. “That’s the problem we need to address. While I’m glad our ports are open to receive more shipping containers, if we don’t have the trucks to haul them, we haven’t solved the supply chain problem.”
Williams said the trucker shortage has been growing in the Tampa Bay area for two decades, and it is getting worse.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better. And not just in the next couple of months. It’s going to get worse for the next two years,” Williams said.
The industry is now facing a record shortage due to the pandemic, with around 80,000 truck drivers needed, according to the American Trucking Association.
Williams said as drivers retire, the younger generation isn’t getting behind the wheel to fill the void.
“There’s a generational gap in the perception of the industry,” Williams said. “Right now the average salary for a CDL holder in the state of Florida is almost $80,000 a year. I don’t think they realize the opportunity that a professional driver, being a professional driver presents to them. Because they have this chance to make an enormous amount of money for their age.”
Williams is urging the Florida Trucking Association to change age restrictions, to help recruit younger drivers.
“The age is going to drop from 21 to 18 for interstate, I hope that happens. If you can die for this country you should be allowed to drive all over its interstates,” said Williams.