The image of the professional truck driver has taken a hit over the last 20-plus years. It has long been considered a job of last resort, or a second career. We have all heard the statement: “If you can’t do anything else, you can always drive a truck.”
There are many reasons for this perception of the industry. First off, almost all skilled trades have taken a hit over the last decade or two. Society has placed a higher importance on academics and moved its focus away from seeing skilled professional tradespeople as respectable professionals.
This has pushed many to move towards a certain educational stream and led to a shortage of skilled trades workers across the board. Somewhere along the line, society started thinking of anybody who worked with their hands as people who were just not smart enough to do other jobs, which of course is not correct.
We have almost shamed hardworking, intelligent, and skilled workers away from this field and into university. We all played a role in this, as parents, educators, guidance counselors, government, and many others. Trucking is not even listed as a skilled trade, which is a travesty, but as a result of this, we were even hit harder by the shortage of young people wanting to enter our industry.
I started in this industry as a driver at the age of 18, 30 years ago. Many people, especially those who grew up in rural communities with time and experience around heavy machinery, thought of this profession as a job of first choice.
Driving professionally was respected and viewed as an opportunity to make a good living right out of school. Those possibilities and realities have not changed, but the awareness of the opportunities within the industry has diminished.
It may be harder to drive now at 18 as a result of insurance and, depending on jurisdictions, it may not even be legal for you to drive until up to 21, but roles in this industry are still there. Many different positions are open and successful careers are open for the taking, but nobody knows it but us.
The pandemic has been a terrible thing that has affected all of us in one way, shape or form. However, I always believe there is a silver lining in every dark cloud.
The silver lining in this case is the upgraded public perception of the professional truck driver and our industry as a whole. It took the visual impact of empty shelves and the urgent need for delivery of crucial PPE to elevate the importance of professional drivers to a level of respect that the public has not shown in my lifetime.
When the world shut down, drivers kept going, and kept our essential services functioning and supplies available. Of course, this has always been our role, but finally everyone became aware of it.
Politicians from across the world starting thanking drivers on a regular basis at their press briefings. Services that were closed at the start began opening and providing drivers with free meals and access to showers and washrooms. Groups of people standing at the roadside with signs thanking truckers and asking for the air horn formed.
This is great to see, and it’s about time drivers received the respect they deserve. As an industry, we must take advantage of this! This public adulation will not last.
Right now, kids know who we are and what we do, and even more importantly, so do their parents and the school guidance counselors. Now is the time to reach out to elementary and secondary schools and provide them with information about our industry, the jobs available, and highlight career paths that a student can take.
Funding is now available
We have long complained funding is not available to help people enter our industry. There is now great support for industry through a program from the federal government called Career Expressway. Managed by Trucking HR Canada, this program will provide $10,000 in funding for the training of qualified people under the age of 30.
For private fleets, I think this is a no-brainer. This is an opportunity to gain funding for an employee that may be working elsewhere in your company with hopes of becoming a driver and advancing their career. Through this funding, you could get that individual upgraded while having nearly the entire cost of the course covered.
The additional wage subsidy will provide as much as $15,000.00 in subsidies for people under the age of 30. This funding is not just for driving positions either. It could be for a dispatcher, warehouse worker, load planner and many more jobs in the transportation and logistics field. Both programs are open now and expire March 31, 2021.
Additionally, a wage subsidy program is available for persons with disabilities. The funding is available in the transportation field, is up to $15,000, and open now until June 30, 2021.
We must ensure we utilize these funds to make the program a success. For more information, go here and review the program details.
Trucking HR Canada is conducting a webinar on Sept. 30 to explain the details of the program further. If you would like to join this webinar, email email@example.com to be forwarded the details, even if you are not a member.
We have never had a better opportunity to recruit people into this industry than we do now; let’s ensure we take advantage of it.
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