Trucking is not the only industry with a looming labor shortage knocking at its front door.
Several sectors, specifically in the skilled trades, know they will be facing an uphill battle in the coming years as they attempt to attract new blood into their fields.
Attractive tech jobs are more enticing to young professionals for a variety of reasons – better hours, good pay, less physically demanding, and frankly, cooler for a 20-something to tell their friends and family when asked what they do for a living.
But all is not lost – and all is not what it seems.
There will always be a need for drivers – at least for the foreseeable future, even with autonomous technology getting better each year – as well as the myriad of other positions on the trucking industry’s table.
During the opening conference of Truxpo 2018, Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), said her association was involved in a school outreach program in an effort to foster interest in young people for a career in construction. Like her field, Famulak said trucking was cursed with new workers having the preconceived notion that a career in the industry did not have a whole lot to offer. Something she said was not the case, as both trucking and construction have come a long way since our parents and grandparents were in the workforce, and there are in fact several technology-driven aspects of both industries.
But with only one in 69 students pursuing a skilled trade upon leaving high school, according to Famulak, it is pivotal to get more students excited about careers in construction and trucking.
Hence, a school outreach program.
Famulak invited the trucking sector in B.C. to join her association in the school outreach program effort – something Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have already done – to help get young people more educated about what a career in trucking would entail.
VRCA engages students and teachers through the program with industry volunteers who present all the various career opportunities in construction.
Trucking needs to do more of this.
I know there are initiatives out there attempting to do the same, such as the Road Knights program, which sends drivers to schools to show students what truck driving is all about.
This is wonderful from the perspective of trying to provide a career path for students who would love a job behind the wheel, on the open road, draped with independence.
But to get tech-savvy students interested in a career in trucking or construction there needs to be a different approach. Nobody outside of the industry knows just how technical trucking really is. I was not involved in the industry prior to taking my current position two-and-a-half years ago, and I was completely unaware of what really goes on behind the scenes.
And having visited various head offices of carriers and OEMs across North America – like Bison and Kenworth – I see that you’d be hard pressed to guess those companies were in the trucking industry at all based on their modern office life.
Granted, there is a big difference between the big players and most of the smaller carriers that at times can play catch-up when it comes to technology. But that doesn’t mean it will be that way forever, and from my experience, it’s the younger generation that steps into situations like this and is able to make the necessary changes a business needs to progress and thrive.
And who wouldn’t want that?
The industry could certainly do more to entice those on the outside not looking in to start taking notice.
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
@DerekClouthier All posts by Derek Clouthier