Current, there is a large driver shortage in Canada. Drivers account for 82% of the trucking sectors workforce and these drivers move more than 90% of all consumer goods in Canada. There is never going to be a lack of goods to move, but there is a lack of drivers, and this is a huge issue.
During the 2007 to 2011 recession, virtually no new drivers were recruited. Drivers were laid off and drivers retired and those positions were never filled. Once the market picked back up those positions remained empty and increasing demand meant even more drivers were needed to keep up. This has all come to a head as we continue to ship freight around the world faster and more frequently (with the rise and change of e-commerce) but the amount of drivers has remained the same. In recent times, lack of new drivers entering the market can also be attributed to low pay, cheaper freight, and a heavily regulated rules and regulations.
By 2021 the Trucking/Transportation industry will need 153,000 new workers. This only accounts for additional workers needed to address increasing demand, current vacancies, and driver retirement. Additionally, 319,000 more drivers are required over the next 10 years to meet labour market needs. The current driver demographic is men, 30+ years old. 82% of drivers are over the age of 30 and only 3% of drivers, mechanics, and technicians are female. 18% of drivers are over the age of 55, there are few young drivers entering the market, and the driver turnover rate is in excess of 90%.
Who is left to Drive
The industry currently relies on individuals who thoroughly enjoy the work, experienced drivers making more money than a driver entering the industry, and foreign workers looking to take up roots in Canada. This means that individuals in the industry can be much more selective about the jobs they take, the pay rate they are willing to accept, and companies must cater to drivers (often with lavish accommodations) in order to keep drivers happy and working.
Solving the Shortage
How can the industry start to fill the upward of 30,000 positions they currently have available as well as meet the ever-growing demand for drivers? Some people suggest redistributing money in the trucking industry or increasing freight rates, but the two solutions that seem to be garnering the most attention are: recognizing trucking as a skilled trade and attracting young drivers into the profession.
Trucking as a Skilled Trade
There has been a large push for the Government of Canada to label Trucking as a skilled trade. The industry has been recognized as a trade in Ontario but many believe recognizing it throughout the country would lead to mandatory entry-level training (more companies would be willing to accept new drivers), upgrades to licencing standards, and would help with the reputation of the Trucking industry as a whole.
Currently, 18% of the industry is under 30 years of age. There is huge demand for the next generation to enter into this profession yet there is a lack of interest surrounding the industry for people in this age group. The Ontario Trucking Association has a great article written by a young man in his 20s outlining the reasons his generation in not interested in the industry. He cites a stigma around the profession, a push from older generations to go to college/university, and a lack of advertising to young people as the main reasons many under the age of 30 can not see themselves in this career.
In order to make sure the trucking industry does not continue down this same path there is a need to attract new drivers into the profession. Recognizing the industry as a trade and attracting young drivers seem like the two solutions most likely to succeed. The CTHRC has been working toward achieving the skilled driver recognition. This recognition could help immensely with industry reputation which in turn, with the right advertising and exposure, would help young people take the profession more seriously as a viable career option. These changes must come in the close future as the shortage will continue to get worse if our current pattern continues.
Do you have any thoughts/ideas to help attract new drivers? Leave them in the comments below!