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The School Bus Driver Shortage Means Problems for Your Business


In Chicago, 70 bus drivers quit in protest of a mandatory vaccine policy. That’s about 10 percent of the drivers. In Massachusetts, the National Guard is subbing as bus drivers, as there aren’t enough to be found. 

A nationwide survey from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, among others, found that 99 percent of school districts said bus driver shortages were a problem, with 65 percent saying it’s their top concern.

Unless all your employees’ children are enrolled in that 1 percent of school districts, this shortage will affect your business.

Why School Bus Shortages Matter

Most likely, your employees have school-aged children, and many of them depend on school buses to get to school. If there’s a school bus driver shortage, your employees either have incredibly weird pick-up and drop-off times or have to find a way to get their kids to school.

While that may not seem like a big deal–parents have been running kids to school since Pa Ingalls took his girls on a sled (and before), it can add to a stressful day. If your employees are working from home, having weird bus times may not be too much of a problem, but if they have to come into the office, it can mean they need to arrive late or leave early.

But there’s another hidden problem if you’re competing for drivers or entry-level employees: competition.

The average school bus driver earns $15.54 per hour, but a quick search through Indeed shows much higher salaries–with sign-on bonuses. Rochester, New York, offers $23.57 per hour, plus a $3000 bonus if you’re fully qualified. If you need training and certification, it’s a $1500 bonus.

Can your part-time positions beat that?

Your salaries may need a bump.

We’ve heard about “fight for $15” for years, but now it’s employers who are begging for people at $20 or more. And while you may be paying that much or more, as other jobs increase their pay, you’ll be forced to bump yours up or face worker shortages yourself.

So, in addition to the stress your employees (and possibly you) go through trying to get the kids out of the house so they can work, you’ve got competition for entry-level roles. If you need professional drivers, here’s your direct competition.

Of course, since many school bus drivers are part-time jobs, if you can offer full-time at that level (without a bus full of smelly 12-year-olds who have just discovered Axe body spray), you may be able to win against this.

Remember, when it comes to hiring, you’re not just competing against people who make similar products or services; you’re competing against people who hire the same people you do.

School bus driver shortages are just a sign that salaries may need to be higher to attract more candidates, even if you don’t need any drivers yourself. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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