CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte native is trying to help tackle the shortage of truck drivers in the U.S.
Micah Conor has been behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler for about 13 years. He said his journey in trucking started in his 20s after working a low-paying job in sales.
“I decided like everyone else to better myself, better my life, you know make better money," Conor said.
Now trucking is his passion.
The American Trucking Association said the United States needs at least 80,000 truck drivers to catch up on supply shortage demands.
The ATA's chief economist said the demand for drivers has increased in the last three years. Truck drivers must go through training before they get on the road, but the demand of drivers isn't meeting the supply.
"Truckers make the world go around," Conor said. "They make it move. Without us, without the trucks, we can’t get anything done."
On top of the current shortage of truckers, ATA estimates the industry will have to recruit 1 million new drivers within the next nine years to replace retiring drivers.
Jay Swaminathan, a global supply chain expert from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, said truckers are a vital portion of the supply chain equation.
"If you think of the role of truckers they show up in many parts of the supply chain," Swaminathan said. "From the port to the warehouse and then also from the warehouse to the retail outlet or directly to the consumers home."
Swaminathan said there are long-term solutions to the trucker shortage. They include higher pay and a better work-life balance.
"One of the main reasons people don't want to do it is because they have to drive all these long distances away from the family and be away for many days," Swaminathan said.
Conor sees the long-term opportunity of truckers needing to be trained.
He’s planning to start a driving school in 2022. It will focus on low-income people who may be deterred by the start-up costs of getting into the business.
"More veteran people, drivers like me, can get out here and produce more drivers for companies," Conor said. "We can keep the world going, keep the cycle going. Everybody’s happy."
Truckers he trains won’t be ready for this holiday season but his training school will impact the long-term problem.