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Wanted: More drivers

Panelists at TTSAO conference argue what needs to be done by schools and students to attract more drivers into the industry

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – ‘What can we do to get more drivers in the trucking industry?’ is a question that haunts almost every carrier in North America.

And because there’s no simple answer, the question is asked and answers debated time and time again.

L-R: Paul Medley, Mike Hahn, and Guy Broderick.

At the second annual Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario (TTSAO) conference at the Centre for Health and Safety Innovation in Mississauga, Ont. on Feb. 16, a panel came together to discuss what schools can be doing better to attract more drivers and what students should be doing if they’re thinking about joining the industry.

Panelists included Guy Broderick, driver trainer for Apps Transport, Mike Hahn of Challenger Motor Freight, and Paul Medley, a recent graduate of the Alpine Truck Driver Training school. The panel was moderated by Manitoulin Transport’s Claude Chaulk.

What can schools do?

For accredited schools to attract more drivers to the industry, Broderick believes that it’s crucial for schools to educate the public on what the trucking does and has to offer.

“The big thing for training schools is I think what they need to do is educate the public,” he said. “And the best way to do that, is just like the Road Knights program does, go out to high schools and employment fairs and career fairs and teach the public about the industry…Unfortunately, there’s too many people who don’t know exactly how the industry works.”

Medley said that he thinks it would be worth while for the industry to think about tying in an apprenticeship program with training.

“Electricians and carpenters all have apprenticeship programs, so maybe that’s an idea,” he said.

What can students do?

More than anything, do your research, stressed the panelists.

“Obviously check out your schools and carrier options that you have,” Broderick said. “Because you have very good trucking companies…and then you have trucking companies that’ll say we need that load there we don’t care if you’re running over hours.

“If someone is coming into the industry from an accredited school, they need to take the time to research the type of company they’re going to work for. Whether that’s talking to other drivers or even talking to shippers, asking them ‘Hey, what do you think about that carrier?’ And that’s a good way of feeling out the good carriers from the bad carriers, just like you need to feel out the good schools and the fly by night schools.”

Hahn took it one step further by adding that those thinking about entering the trucking industry as a driver should talk to carriers first – even before they enter driving school and start the career change.

“We spend a lot of time doing research on things that we’re going to buy, but we don’t do this with our career choices,” he said.  “These people maybe need to talk to the carriers first about what the expectations are coming in as a new driver. And they have to know realistically what they’re getting involved in…All companies do things slightly differently so it’s a benefit to talk to a number of different carriers…and that research is the only way you can make an educated decision.”

Hahn said that at Challenger there are many applicants who “are not prepared for this industry” because either they didn’t get the proper training or because they haven’t looked into the biggest aspect of a job in trucking – the lifestyle.

That’s because the trainers at “licensing mills” – which pump out Class A licences for $999 ­– don’t educate the drivers on what real trucking looks like and instead, makes false claims about the industry, said Broderick.

“They set the expectations really high,” he said. “I’ve road tested people who have had their licence for less than a year and they thought they were going to be at our very  top wage the minute they passed their test. But that same person missed 28 points on the pre-trip and we didn’t even close the hood.”

“Not doing that research first to make that educated choice, really hurts them in the long run,” Hahn said.

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13 Comments » for Wanted: More drivers
  1. S.W. Andrews says:

    Are you people for real! Are you all that dense? The single most detrimental reality in this industry is Earnings…….a driver’s earnings! To my knowledge, the only other occupation that requires a similar investment of time is farming and that occupation is losing workers for the same damn reason!!!! Money! No other occupation requires it’s workers put as much time in as truck and farming. To make a regular 44 hr. pay cheque, you’re required to put 70 plus hours of work. You’re not paid for what you do. All the other links in the transportation industry are paid for their effort, is. Dispatchers, loading dock and warehousing staff, mechanics. Employers wouldn’t think about asking them to work 6 days a week with 1 day off! You white collar people need to pull your heads out of your asses and deal with this issue directly! Giving me a shining new truck to drive every 3 years doesn’t give me the home time every other link in the chain gets. I have to work 6 days a week to get one day off and I am seldom home on that one day! Get a grip you people!

  2. Claire Ravenwood says:

    I went to a good school, graduated with high marks and did get a job, but soon after was let go soon after before I had the chance to take the additional training which I had already paid for.

    I was set up to fail by the person whom I thought was supposed to be helping me and then let go alongside a highway over the telephone by my carrier who called me. Not 2 minutes later, while I am still in shock, someone else called and asked if I had anything personal in my tractor, which I did, then they asked how soon could I clear it out and turn in my keys.

    I never failed to get into a loading dock or parking spot at the truck stops and I never hit another vehicle either.

    I have no idea what they tell anyone but it seems no one involved with transportation, including a limo company, will take me on. Most use the exact same line, “We have decided not to move forward with your application.” Clean abstracts, FAST card and 35 years with not even an accident or a speeding ticket and I often can’t even get past the front door to even talk with someone.

    The few who talk with me say get more time then come back but if I can’t get hired, how do I do that? Also if a carrier took me on, I would not dump that one for another after they had shown faith in me.

    I want to work but the doors keep getting slammed in my face.

    • robert says:

      Perhaps it is because of your gender this is what I suspect.
      You will fin a good honest company and perhaps if you want to get in you will have to be prepare to work for a fly by night company this is what happen many time.
      Good luck to you.

  3. Mike Ainslie says:

    Hey guys wake up and smell the coffee there is lots of ex drivers out there willing to come back into the industry it just comes down to the $. I would love to come back driving but I watched my income fall by 30% because myfleet manager said we had to compete with other carriers. There is lots of ex drivers out there that want to come back but it doesn’t pay anymore if I could make 80-100k a year I’ll gladly come back and do long haul again. I drove for 20 yrs and watched my income shrink so I got out. I’ll gladly come back when I can see that type of income but until then I’ll keep slugging it out in a factory.

  4. Michael Gower says:

    20 plus years the OTA/CTA has been crying about the mythical driver shortage and 20 years later they still don’t have it figured out…..brilliant!

  5. Mark Zambrzycki says:

    ” Broderick believes that it’s crucial for schools to educate the public on what the trucking does and has to offer.”

    If schools do the latter, enrollment will quickly fall by 50% at least. It would be a very bad move indeed for prospective truck drivers to be told honestly how very, very little MONEY they would be working for. The only way the transport industry will continue getting the number of applicants they have is to carry on with the status quo: Keep up the bullshit. Drivers can be gulled – for a while at least.

  6. John Hebbes says:

    Getting new drivers into the industry will always be a challenging issue. Maybe the time has come for companies to step up to the plate and pay them a decent wage for the time these workers spend on the road.

  7. robert says:

    It is all good to talk about to find a solution I have been working in that field for over 25 years and seen bad to very bad companies and at the end of my time with transport I have been working with really good companies so total in all these years only three companies come to my books and I am not shy to mention their name 1- Heyl truck line of Iowa as office in Calgary, 2- Versa Cold also from Calgary and 3-Bakerstreet produce of Saskatoon. See it took 25 years to find a really good company to work for.
    Now at 70 years old and in good shape still driving long haul about 6 months per year and I do enjoy running with the Electronic log it is a piece of mind knowing you are legal.

  8. Gerry Vinet says:

    Yeah Right. I’m 54, got my Class 1 w/Air and can’t get a job cause I have no experience. Can’t get experience cause I don’t have a trucking job. Figure that one out guys.

    • robert says:

      I think the reason is there is no training from school affiliated with companies to do real live load so approach a school and try to get some on job training like driving super solo, or as a student with a long haul driver and get into an apprenticeship program if there is one.
      Good luck.

  9. Truck Matters (trkmatters) says:

    Get emails and messages on Facebook all the times when I post stuff about drivers shortages wages and it is pretty much universal. 9 out of 10 times the guy on the dock is making more money then they are. Local market fork lift licence $200 no fines enforcement, medical drug testing, border clearance. Pay $22 – 30 hourly overtime after 44 hrs. Truck drivers $8k for school, license fees, medical, fines for a number of things beyond our control companies that take little responsibility. $15 – 23 hourly no overtime till 60 hrs. Then add in over the road and lifestyle or lack of one I have no idea why companies are having difficulty finding and keeping drivers. End the race to the bottom on rates start passing on costs like you do for everything thing else. When fuel goes up or trucks cost more you seem to find money to pay for these increased costs.

  10. Lucien Bleau says:

    I recall being at an AMTA Annual Meeting in Banff where David Bradley was the guest speaker.

    He informed the audience that the trucking industry was experiencing a shortage of 52,000 truck drivers an what can b done about it?

    I raised my hand, stood up and suggested that the rates should be increased to bring back some the 110,000 Class 1/A drivers that had quit the profession due to low pay.

    Pay drivers for everything they do. Cut the crap with this idea that “It’s all included in the mileage rate”.

  11. robert says:

    Good man Lucien!
    Did they listen to your remark?? or did they ask you politely to take it easy? These guys are doing the annual run in order to justify their jobs and of course lunch money, hotel room, private vehicle mileage rate pretty high and BSting to the public.
    All they have to do is get the old drivers back for six months or on monthly basis and put a new responsible rookie in the cab for a long haul load or two that way the old guy stay awake.
    I am an old one at 70 yrs old and do six months a year it work good with the company that has winter and summer drivers I am a summer one.

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