Trucking Industry to Hire Felons to Fill Driver Shortage

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Tractor-trailers are responsible for carrying billions of dollars’ worth of goods across the country, and trucking companies are turning to somewhat unconventional hiring practices to secure more drivers. The trucking industry is facing a continuing driver shortage, and by 2025 there could be as many as 175,000 unfilled truck driver positions. Industry leaders report an aging workforce and little interest in the industry from younger generations as major factors in the shortage.

Some industry experts are looking to ex-convicts with nonviolent offenses as potential candidates to replace retiring drivers and a dwindling workforce. A criminal record is typically a major deterrent to hiring managers, and many nonviolent felons in the U.S. are seeking honest work and a chance to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, the stigma of incarceration makes finding steady work difficult for many of them.

Mutual Benefits of Felon Drivers

Statistics from the Sentencing Project indicate there are more than 70 million U.S. adults with criminal records, and 600,000 inmates rejoin society from prison each year. Law enforcement statistics show that nearly 75% of all released inmates are arrested again within five years. The stigma of a criminal record often leaves a newly released convict with few opportunities for gainful work, and a study by the Indiana Department of Corrections shows that gainful employment is one of the best ways to reduce recidivism.

While the idea of spending days away from home on the road may deter others from entering the trucking industry, ex-convicts with little family and few ties may find the lifestyle more appealing. Truck drivers often spend days at a time on deliveries, and many enjoy the opportunity to see new parts of the country. The relatively short training time is another perk for ex-convicts looking for gainful work. A newly released prisoner can ideally obtain a Class A commercial driver’s license for a truck driver position, and having such a license will help open other opportunities later. The trucking industry could be a fantastic way for newly released inmates to rejoin society and rebuild their lives.

Reasonable Caution in Hiring

The main emotion deterring most employers from hiring former criminals is mistrust. Americans are generally aware that most released inmates return to criminal activities, but their inability to find gainful work due to suspicion is often a major contributing factor. Hiring managers in the trucking industry understand this, but they also need to protect their companies. Several factors come into play when considering former felons for employment. Typically, the most relevant factors are the candidate’s past offenses and the candidate’s age.

A person who committed a felony a few months ago is far more likely to return to criminal activity than a person in his or her 40s who committed a crime at 18. The severity of the offense is also an issue for many managers. For example, a hiring manager may be disinclined to hire someone with past theft or larceny charges if the company ships valuable goods. Felons with driving-related convictions are unlikely choices as well. Former felons may also have trouble securing the insurance coverage necessary for driving trucks.

Ultimately, the trucking industry will need to fill in the gaps created by an aging workforce and growing demand for shipping logistics. Hiring former felons could be a great step that also helps people who honestly want a second chance to find the means to build new lives.