OTTAWA, Ont. -- In the wake of a recently released report which found the average age of truck drivers to be four years higher than that of the average worker, new data indicates that the average truckers’ age is, in fact, even older. The former report, commissioned by the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) with analysis provided by the 2006 Census and the Labour Force Survey, found the average age of truck drivers to be 44 years versus 40 years for the average worker. New data from the 2011 National Household Survey indicates that the average truck driver age is actually 46 years, with the average workers’ age also rising to 41.5 years.
In comparing the studies, in 2006, the share of drivers in the 30 to 34 age range was 10%, the same as it was for the total labour force. In 2011, 8.5% of drivers found themselves in this age group. For the total labour force, there was a slight increase to 10.4%.
The number of drivers age 65 and up also increase, rising from 3% in 2006 to 4.4% in 2011. For the total labour force, the share of this age cohort increased from 2.6% to 3.5%.
“This confirms that in the trucking industry, more than in others, ‘new’ sources of labour are delayed retirements – which is nothing more than a bandage solution,” said Vijay Gill, principal research associate at the CBC.
Gill says the drop in drivers age 20 to 29 has had the most significant impact on the average driver age. In 2006, 11.6% of truck drivers were in that age group. By 2011, this had declined to just 8.8% of the driver population. On the other hand, drivers age 55 and older increased from 20% to 26%.
Gill said that during the CBC’s research, they discovered that while the industry was having difficulty recruiting younger drivers, their had been some success with drivers age 35 to 40 years and over – though not enough to replace all the exits from the 35 to 44 age bracket.
“Companies will have to continue to recruit from wherever they can. But there is a distinct disadvantage for the industry as a whole from recruiting 40 year olds, rather than 25 year olds. Every 40 year old will potentially have 25 years of driving left, whereas a 25 year old will potentially have 40 years. In the long run then, for every 25 year old that the industry does not recruit, it will have to recruit close to two 40 year olds,” Gill said.
“As we mentioned in our report, it will ultimately be up to the industry to address this ongoing challenge and to make the occupation more attractive to younger drivers,” he continued. “But as we also put forth, it will also be important to convince customers of the need to address this challenge now and to work with them to develop strategies that will make the best use of drivers’ time, as the trucking industry has a long track record of sharing its productivity benefits with customers through lower prices.”