Charlton Paul was destined for the road.
The New York native remembers beginning to think about trucking as a career when he was as young as seven years old. At the time, it was an opportunity to see the world outside of his neighborhood. The vision stuck with him as he grew up and, as a young adult, turned to a community organization to help him earn his commercial driver’s license at no cost.
Now 22 years and 2 million accident-free miles into his career, the UPS Freight driver says he is living his childhood dream.
“I’ve been able to see parts of the world I never imagined seeing,” said Paul.
Whether it’s delivering or shipping, trucking makes the nation move. According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), trucks hauled more than 10 billion tons of freight in 2018 and more than 80 percent of U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities.
To keep up with demand, the industry needs more drivers. The ATA states that there are 50,000 vacant driver positions nationwide and predicts the figure will rise to 175,000 by 2026. Factors causing the growing gap include an aging workforce on the cusp of retirement, increased e-commerce and concerns about long hours on the road.
But the industry is fueling up to combat this issue, working with partners and local community organizations to open the door for new opportunities.
U.S. Bank, a leader in freight payments, recently partnered with the ATA and Minneapolis nonprofit North@Work to address the truck driver shortage at the local level. The organizations hosted a panel and showcase event at Dart Transit headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota, highlighted by a 53-foot show trailer, Interstate One.
North@Work focuses on connecting African American males, ages 25 and older, with sustainable career paths. In only 18 months, 60 men have graduated from its Class B license program and its first Class A-licensed driver graduated earlier this year.
Tony Tolliver, director of workplace innovation for North@Work, hopes their involvement diversifies professional truck drivers and helps solve the issue of driver hiring and retention across the state – where one in 18 jobs is in the industry.
“We’re changing the lives for the people of North Minneapolis who are ready and willing to the work by filling the gap employers need while giving those from under-served communities a chance,” said Tolliver (pictured below on left).
In addition to addressing driver shortages by partnering with organizations such as the ATA and North@Work, U.S. Bank is working to grow digital capabilities for carrier companies that assist the driver, rather than replacing them. With more innovation and continued demand for faster deliveries, the future is promising for truck drivers.
“Our goal is to provide greater awareness and education towards their roles on the road.,” said Jeff Pape (pictured above on right), senior vice president of product and marketing for U.S. Bank Global Transportation. “There are great achievements to be made with the growth of advanced technology.”
Events such as that with the ATA and North@Work accomplish that goal and are aligned with U.S. Bank Community Possible, the company’s social responsibility platform through which it aims on closing gaps between people and possibility in the area of Work, Home and Play.
In 2018, the ATA recognized Charlton Paul as a member of its America’s Road Team, a group made up of the nation’s best drivers. With the accolade, Paul hopes to reinvest in the next generation of drivers.
“I like to see people win,” Paul said. “It’s more than driving a truck. You gain a sense of accomplishment when you’re behind the wheel.”
Written by Godfrey Mpetey of U.S. Bank. Learn more about how the company serves the trucking industry.