New Optimism In New Generation of Truck Drivers

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/15/2013

The truck driver shortage has been a major concern for all of North America, especially when the industry feels the extra challenge of appealing to a younger talent pool. But according to new research conducted for Trucking HR Canada, young people may not be as down on the trucking industry as many thought.

New generation

While today's youth are certainly concerned about the prospect of long periods away from home, long work hours, poor working conditions and perceived safety risks in the trucking industry, they also view the travel, independence, challenging work and steady employment opportunities as highly appealing prospect. The report, titled, ‘Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Drivers: Attracting Canada's Youth to Opportunities in Trucking,' was based on extensive focus groups, site visits, online surveys and interviews with high school students and educators.

Educators who took part noted students are concerned about extended time away from home, safety risks and other barriers as well. For example, the study found today's youth are less passionate about cars and driving than previous generations, are less likely to have a driver's license and likely to be inexperienced drivers into their early 20s.

On the flip side, the majority of youth said they are aware of the trucking industry's ongoing need for labor and recognizing the availability of jobs within the industry offered much reason for their optimistic view of it. With today's otherwise unstable job market, the trucking industry offers security that younger people are well aware is hard to find in other fields.

“The researchers behind Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Drivers found that Canada's youth have a relatively positive view of the trucking industry, and are attracted by many of the benefits offered by industry careers,” says Tamara Miller, Trucking HR Canada's director, programs and services. “This data can be used to refine messages which target youth. A related analysis of school-to-work programs can also be used to guide initiatives that will build bridges between the school system and careers in trucking.”  

The report laid out several key recommendations, including: developing marketing materials and branding elements specifically targeting youth; identifying or creating entry-level career paths into driving occupations, so that youths aged 19-25 can find a role within the industry that may lead to driving careers; developing new industry-education partnerships; and using up-to-date National Occupational Standards, to review the opportunity for high schools and colleges to develop national driving-related curriculum.

This is the second of recent Canadian studies to identify key challenges in trucking industry recruitment and recommendations for areas of improvement.