Calgary

Desperately wanted: school-bus drivers

A school-bus operator in southern Alberta is among the latest companies to experience the province's labour crunch.

A school-bus operator in southern Alberta is among the latest companies to experience the province's labour crunch.

Southland Transportation has put out an urgent call for nearly 200 drivers. The company operates 900 school buses in southern Alberta and if vacancies aren't filled by September, bus routes could be a lot longer for children.

"It's desperate," said spokeswoman June Read.

"We're looking to get people that are interested in driving a school bus part time, and right now as you know the part-time employee market is at an all-time low in terms of available human capital."

The company says it's hard to compete with other part-time jobs because of the strict requirements for trainees, including several days of training, a criminal background check and a drug test.

Recruiters are targeting stay-at-home parents, who can save day-care dollars by bringing their kids with them on the bus. Southland is also going after retired and semi-retired people who don't want a full-time job.

No need forday care

Pamela Coulombe is training to become a school-bus driver and plans to bring her kids along for the ride.

"I think it's ideal for a parent, you get to be with your children, no day care, no one else is raising them but you and a little bit of socialization. I think it's great," she said.

Retiree Orest Kowalsky likes the hours.

"It's very flexible hours. You basically work four or five hours a day; it leaves you time to do other work. I find that very appealing."

Read hopes the chance to work with kids, parents and teachers will appeal to potential bus drivers.

"There's a lot of personal gratification for doing this kind of work and that's rare in many jobs," she said.

Drivers can earn up to $95 a day.