Much has been said about Canada’s shortage of truck drivers and the ongoing search for candidates to fill vacated seats. The process can seem as futile as efforts to refill a bucket riddled with holes.
But the answers may not be limited to finding, training, and recruiting an entirely new generation of drivers. Look no further than licence holders who abandon trucking in the search for better pay or more favorable lifestyles.
Not everyone who holds a licence is fit for a driving job, of course. Some drivers are fired for poor performance. Others discover the work simply isn’t for them. There are also people who secure the licences to support other career paths that just happen to involve heavy equipment.
But consider those who never had the chance to work with an employer who aligned with their core values. Or the truck drivers who left to pursue different careers and discovered that life was not much greener on the other side of the fence. Maybe the family dynamics that led to them to hand in the truck keys have changed as well.
When Camo-route surveyed Quebec licence holders between October and January, it discovered 84% of non-active truck drivers could return to the profession if certain conditions were met. An equal share of those who were surveyed had left trucking within the last five years, so they might be able to polish their skills more quickly than a brand-new recruit.
Attracting them back to trucking would involve addressing the reasons they left in the first place. The top reason most of them changed jobs included poor pay, but driver wages have been rising in recent years. The second challenge involved a search to balance work and personal lives, but fleets are now testing evermore flexible scheduling models to meet demand. Rounding out the Top 3 issues was the frustration around unpaid waiting time, which a growing number of fleets are addressing.
The would-be candidates said they could be enticed back to trucking through models such as hourly pay — a structure that is more plausible with modern-day telematics. But such a wage would need to hover somewhere between $27 and $30 per hour, with $23 per hour being the bottom of the range.
This is more than a matter of enticing people out of retirement, too. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed were under the age of 55, leaving plenty of time to explore a new career.
When the U.K. was facing a fuel shortage because of a lack of truck drivers – triggered in part because of barriers introduced after leaving the European Union – it sent letters to about 1 million licence holders asking them to return to jobs in trucking.
“Your valuable skills and experience have never been more needed than they are now,” said a joint letter from the minister for roads, buses and places, and executives with the Logistics U.K. and Road Haulage Association trade groups. The letter highlighted changes including better pay and more options including flexible and part-time work.
“If you are no longer working in this sector, we would like to take this opportunity to ask you to consider returning.”
Canada may not be facing a crisis of the same magnitude. Not yet. But maybe that makes this the perfect time to reach out to some of the truck drivers we’ve lost.
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