P.E.I. trucking industry wants more women behind the wheel
Industry facing a shortage of 30,000 by 2020 nationwide
The Island's trucking industry is facing a major shortage of workers, and officials hope women will step up to help fill the gap.
According to the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council, truckers are aging and many are set to retire in the next several years.
Executive director Brian Oulton says approximately 30,000 truck drivers are needed nationwide by 2020, several hundred on Prince Edward Island.
Jobs 'everywhere' on the Island
Oulton said many trucking jobs on the Island go unfilled, and getting more women behind the wheel would make a big difference.
"In the past, I think a lot of women thought they had to be rough and tough, because steering these trucks is tough and there's a lot of lifting, and that's really not the case," said Oulton.
"What we're really looking for in this industry is someone with a good head on their shoulders. It's about problem-solving on the road, and that is way more important than how physically strong you are."
Oulton said times have changed, and truck drivers no longer need to spend weeks on the road away from home.
The vehicles are solid and safe to drive, he said, the industry is heavily regulated, and the job pays well.
But the best part about trucking? You can be yourself.
"You can be real in trucking, and you can act like yourself."
Championing female truck drivers vital
Oulton said the council is doing what it can to encourage more women to give truck driving a try — and the best way to do that is championing female truck drivers.
Amy Herring has a business degree from UPEI, but she wanted a job that got her out of the office.
You can be real in trucking, you can act like yourself.- Brian Oulton, Executive Director, PEI Trucking Sector Council
"I think just the freedom of not being stuck behind a desk everyday." said Herring.
"I wasn't sure what I was going to do but I was hoping to travel a little bit and be able to kinda be my own boss."
'Something for everybody'
Since becoming a truck driver several years ago, Herring said she's travelled extensively throughout Canada and the United States — and she loves the flexibility of the job.
"You can basically do whatever you want to do," she said.
"If you want to go long haul and see the world, or do local and be home every night, or kind of a mix of both, there's something for everybody."
Herring said it's a career with potential for growth as an owner/operator, dispatcher, or fleet manager.
According to the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council, approximately seven per cent of employees in the trucking industry are women, up from three per cent in 2007.
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