When AARP gets trade groups to agree to hire older workers, it’s news. The senior citizens’ organization now has 20 groups in its Alliance for an Experienced Workforce, an effort to create workplaces that attract employees ages 50 and older. When the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association signed up, it also made headlines
But in one sense this isn’t exactly news. The typical owner-operator already has crossed the great half-century divide. The average age of those responding to the Overdrive 2005 Owner-Operator Market Behavior Report is 53. They’re not only prepared to handle the demands of their work, they do an awfully good job at it. Most ATA and TCA members need no prodding from AARP, or anyone else, to lease qualified owner-operators.
The reason this program is newsworthy is its prospect of bringing in people new to trucking. They will need some serious training, and while some won’t cut it, age rarely will be the reason. On the contrary, because of the driver shortage, an infusion of new CDL-holders with the maturity of the 50-plus crowd could be quite helpful.
Most new drivers, like their younger counterparts, will not start as owner-operators. Those who warm up to the industry could easily have driving careers of 10 or 20 years, more than enough time to become an independent contractor.
My hat’s off to the thousands of owner-operators who’ve proven the productivity of workers older than 50, as well as to the carriers who’ve provided them fertile ground to do so.
–Brad Holthaus, Publisher