Trucking companies should take note of Walmart's new driver recruitment strategy

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Walmart truck
Walmart now offers an associate-to-driver training program to boost its driver force.

Companies have been trying different ways to offset the impacts of the driver shortage across the trucking industry – from the ages old sign-on bonus to implementing technology that increases uptime and increases automation to improve existing driver satisfaction.

Major retail corporation Walmart recently launched a new approach: recruiting from an existing pool of workers by enticing them with a greater salary than an hourly wage of $17.50.

The company recently completed a pilot of its 12-week truck driver training program that trained 56 new truck drivers it recruited from a group of associates in California and Delaware. It has now expanded that associate-to-driver program to more than 400 stores, distribution centers and other locations with a goal to recruit 400 to 800 drivers for its private fleet from within its existing employee base.

At face value, this benefits Walmart, but the industry as a whole could also see some benefit. After all, it’s creating more CDL holders on a large corporation’s dime.

Granted, I’m sure Walmart has a contract with these employees requiring they work for the retailer for a certain time period, but once that’s up, they could seek employment across the industry.

But more than that, it’s a strategy others – retailers, distributors and even trucking companies – could learn from and implement in some way.

Oftentimes, trucking talent shifts from the cab to the terminal along their career path – from driver to recruiter for example. But trucking companies could consider vice versa, offering a program like Walmart’s to terminal-based employees.

Boeing does this with its employees, recruiting from all areas. A friend of mine who works in accounting at Boeing called me the other day to ask about the process of obtaining a private pilot’s license (I’ve looked into it). Boeing will pay for her to earn her pilot’s license. Color me jealous!

This type of program at a trucking company could open a pipeline for talent; bring on a diesel mechanic assistant – or even an administrative assistant – and train them up to become a driver. It’s enticing because they can go from a minimum-wage salary to triple the earning potential without having to foot the bill. It’s also often easier to attract low-skill workers to these lower-level positions than it is to find drivers, especially considering many trucking companies are based in rural areas that have more labor than jobs.

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It's worth considering whether a similar type of program could benefit your company.

Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at [email protected].