My topic today is about the industry as a whole and how we must take responsibility for our current and future state. To put it frankly, we suck at promoting ourselves and selling our trade to the masses. ‘Just another dumb trucker’ is a label we all have accepted to some point and we make a feeble attempt to justify our careers (by saying things like, “I have tried to get out of it but trucking is like a drug habit I can’t kick.” I’ve said the same thing, but this industry has supported me and my family quite comfortably — I am on track to retire at a spry and youthful 85 years of age!)
But seriously, take a look at the trucking executives in Canada; most have backgrounds as truckers themselves, so who can deny we have upward mobility potential? We have to shape our industry to be attractive to smart young people and those who have chosen dead end or less than challenging career paths.
First off, let’s get our policy makers to recognize truck driving as a skilled trade. We need to fall into line with welders and electricians and develop apprenticeship programs for trucking. We need to get transportation into a high school curriculum and into college courses.
We need the government to offer student loans and some incentives so people can train to get their truck licences. We need a unified voice to start screaming louder to our government folks to help us, not hinder us. Any regulations that are being built should take into consideration our looming driver shortage and be custom-made to help us attract folks, not scare them away.
Then there is something that is going to be the toughest to accomplish; we have to pay our skilled drivers more money. That means the shippers have to dole out more. If they don’t, their goods are going to take a lot longer to arrive when there are no drivers to haul the loads. How can we attract people to drive truck at $20 per hour when they can go be a swamper in the oilfield for $30 an hour? Time to pay the piper!
I am proud to be a part of this trucking industry: the long hours and tough challenges that drivers and management face on a day-to-day basis deliver a satisfying sense of accomplishment. The goods get to where they are going and usually always on time. Most trucking folks strive for 99.5 percent on time and I believe we all get it in the 90’s on a regular basis. This doesn’t just happen, it takes the skills and the dedication of all the men and women working through inclement weather, piles of regulations and highways and roads originally designed for horse and buggy. I have come to know these tireless workers for many years and there are so many I would depend on in any situation. Great people with great achievements: this is what we need to promote and sell.
If you love this industry, you understand.
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