- Last week, Houston, TX-based Waste Management hosted its first national career day. Ten sites across the nation hired driving and technical recruits — 20 people were hired on the spot in Houston, out of 88 people who were hired nationally on Wednesday.
- The American Trucking Association reported that there's an estimated shortage of 48,000 truck drivers in the U.S. The waste and recycling industry will need an average of 89,000 new truck drivers a year for the next decade, according to the Houston Chronicle.
- Melkeya McDuffie, senior director of talent acquisition for Waste Management, noted that it's a challenge to find drivers that meet the company's experience requirements. In Florida, Waste Management has built a training facility to help new hires get up to speed. In New Jersey, the company partnered with a driving school. In Texas and Oklahoma, it offers commercial drivers license (CDL) programs.
The waste and recycling industry, among many other trucking industries, is having a challenging time finding trained professionals to drive and manage fleets. However, these drivers are crucial to keeping companies like Waste Management in business, therefore alternative approaches may need to be tested to find qualified drivers.
In September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed refuse and recyclable material collection as the occupation with the fifth highest fatality rate in 2014. If Waste Management — the industry's largest waste collection company — has a hard time finding qualified drivers and refuse collectors, then safety among refuse collectors may not be headed in the right direction for 2015.
A deficit of drivers may not be a problem for long in the industry. In September, Waste Management's Puneet Bhasin told Forbes that he is keeping his eye on driverless waste trucks because of the "enormous benefit" it can have on labor dollars. In the same week, Volvo announced a project that aims to develop robotic trash collectors to demonstrate how "smart machines can assist with a broad range of activities."