Canada Adding More Fuel To Fight Truck Driver Shortage

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/30/2013

The recent release of the new Conference Board of Canada Report has been driving the country to find real solutions to combat the truck driver shortage already taking effect. The report projected the driver shortage could reach 25,000 to 33,000 by 2020, with dire consequences for the trucking industry, consumer goods, and the entire Canadian economy.

Canadian economy

The supply of truck drivers is predicted to nosedive over the next decade - between older drivers nearing retirement, and young people not wanting to get into the industry. Sixty per cent of truck drivers are now over the age of 45, and almost 25 per cent are 55 or older. Meanwhile, only 12 per cent of truck drivers are under the age of 30, far lower than in other occupations. The Report cites such dissuading factors as: employment opportunities in other sectors; poor compensation for drivers; rising operational costs; the demanding lifestyle and working conditions; increased traffic congestion and delays; and heightened border controls and safety requirements.

Echoing the findings of last year's CTA Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Conference Board Report identified the truck driver shortage as the industry's biggest generational concern. The BRTF Report observed that the traditional piecework pay system makes compensation for truck drivers, “no longer competitive with other industries.” The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council has already started to jump on solutions such as spreading the word through its “Earning Your Wheels Curriculum and Accreditation Process”, Career in Trucking booklets, pamphlets and website, as well as its Career Path program.

While industry insiders also cite the need to better educate high school students about the benefits of the trucking industry (freedom, for one), they also suggest more organized immigration strategies as well. Don Wilson, director of the Alberta Motor Transport Association recently added that trucking companies must, “start thinking outside the box” to address forthcoming shortages - utilizing more foreign workers, husband and wife teams, and women behind the wheel.

While the trucking industry is still the second-largest employer of Canadian men, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), notes the industry won't be able to rely on its traditional source of labor such as farms and construction. They stress that tomorrow's truck drivers will need to be better trained and more highly educated to deal with the new technologies being installed in trucks. The OTA also says it's a matter of improving professional, safety, and environmental standards, “so the industry becomes more attractive to a wider group of people.”

The CTA is also reaching out to everyone with the recent launch of their website - the only website in North America dedicated to these issues.