By John Kearney

In a recent survey, a quarter of U.S. adults said they or someone in their household had been laid off or lost a job due to the coronavirus outbreak. While the unemployment rate dropped from April’s record high of 15% to 6.9% in October, much of the drop was driven not by economic growth but by hundreds of thousands of people leaving the job market. The majority of those people—more than 800,000 of the 1.1 million Americans age 20 or over who left the workforce between August and September—were women.

One reason for this is that the COVID pandemic has had a devastating effect on traditionally female occupations. Hospitals, once they realized what they were up against, started furloughing nurses and medical assistants who were chiefly used for routine or optional procedures. Daycare centers laid off over 250,000 workers. The vast majority of housekeepers were let go by their clients. Ditto servers in restaurants, 70% of whom are women.

A problem and an opportunity
There’s a cloud, all right, but it’s one with a silver lining. In the midst of all this unemployment, the motor freight industry is still suffering from an acute driver shortage. Trucking companies know they’re going to have to hire a larger percentage of women, and in many cases they’re not only eager to do that, but they’re also willing to pay for the training these women need to get started.

To spread the word, earlier this year the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association launched the WIT Driver Ambassador Program. The next phase of the program will be an 18-wheeler that will tour the country promoting trucking as a viable opportunity for women. Staffing the trailer will be women truckers themselves, explaining to their potential colleagues what trucking is like and how to thrive in it.

There will also be educational resources on board, including an ATS-donated TransMaster simulator. As we have repeatedly pointed out—a message that’s being taken more and more seriously as the benefits of simulation come to be better understood—simulator training simply produces better drivers.

The bottom line is that there has never been a better time for new drivers, especially women, to enter the trucking industry. On the technology and training side systems like the ones we make at ATS are helping produce better prepared, more confident, and safer drivers. On the human resources side, the industry is more committed to inclusiveness and more economically rewarding than it’s ever been. If you’re a woman looking for a new professional home, trucking might be the right place for you.

For More Information

Advanced Training Systems has revolutionized the design and manufacture of high-tech simulators to improve driver training and create both better drivers and a safer world. In addition to hundreds of driving schools, we provide equipment and support for major shippers who do their own training, as well as customized solutions for those with particular training needs. For more information or to schedule a demo, please contact us here.