Monday May 23, 2016

Canadian trucking industry to face labour shortage unless it diversifies

The trucking industry's shortage of drivers is a looming problem since Canadians depend on trucks to move most of their goods across the country.

The trucking industry's shortage of drivers is a looming problem since Canadians depend on trucks to move most of their goods across the country. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Listen 24:28

The trucking industry is having an increasingly hard time attracting a new generation of drivers. Part of what's detracting these potential truckers is the strained work-life balance that comes with the job.

A study commissioned by David Bradley's organization, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, revealed the trucking industry will be short as many as 48,000 drivers by 2024. As for younger workers, they found that making the trucking lifestyle attractive to them — especially with regards to the long distance or "irregular" routes, which risk the largest shortage — is the real challenge.

"Companies are investing in technology to try to better track, better utilize our human resources, try to get people home more often and the like, but it's still a big challenge." - David Bradley

In order to get more truck drivers on the road, companies are looking to diversification. But with women in trucking making up only 3 per cent of drivers, enticing them to take the wheel involves many of the same challenges as recruiting millennials. 

Shelley Uvanile-Hesch has been driving a rig for 17 years and recently set up the Women's Trucking Federation of Canada to support and promote women in the trucking industry. She says the problems for men and women in the business are mostly the same.

"I hear the same complaints from women as I do from men, it's the home time," she says. "A lot of times they go and interview at a carrier and they're assured that they will be home, and then they're finding out that they're out [longer]. Then they get 36 hours at home and they're back on the road."

The issue of work-life balance has coloured the overall view of trucking as a profession. David Coletto's company, Abacus Data, specializes in researching millennials and he says the generational issue with regards to labour shortages comes down to image.

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Guests in this segment:

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Pacinthe Mattar.