The trucking industry has been grappling with a shortage of workers over many years. Right now unemployment is low, many millennials remain uninterested in trades and heavy-duty diesel trucks are viewed as significant contributors to climate change. These are trends we need help to address.
Since Sept. 1 to 7 is National Trucking Week, I’d like to mark it with a message about the industry for career seekers. We need your passion and commitment and courage to step up and take part in redefining an industry that serves everyone.
We’re also thinking ahead about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. If you are planning your career or looking to switch and want to make a difference, the trucking industry needs you. Whether designing or building new equipment or bringing your skills and dedication to make the truck you drive a model of efficiency and sustainability, your help is welcome. The big picture, the amount of change that’s required, can be overwhelming, but we’re all granted an individual sphere of influence. Your contribution added to others can create something remarkable.
While commercial vehicles still rely heavily on diesel fuel and will for some time, more sustainable technology is on the way and already being deployed. Battery-electric trucks are being piloted in small numbers in California, with more coming for the companies who purchased them. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and natural gas hybrids are also being evaluated – really, invented – in the field.
We’ll have to wait for these trucks to completely change the landscape of the industry. But in the meantime, professional truck drivers remain the number one factor in achieving fuel efficiency with a heavy-duty diesel vehicle.
Trucking companies know this, since fuel efficiency is not only desirable environmentally, it leads to substantial savings for businesses. Fuel is often the primary cost for companies. Young people who are drawn to the good things about trucking careers – independence, the trucks themselves and the chance to travel – may also appreciate the thought that responsible carriers put into sustainable practices for their fleets. And into building a company culture that rewards drivers who are determined to make a difference day to day with their performance.
Many fleets proactively encourage their drivers to meet fuel-saving targets. They may use speed limiters to cap the speed at which their vehicles can travel and track indicators like hard braking and acceleration in order to coach drivers who need it. Many reward drivers for fuel-efficiency gains, taking steps to retain those who understand and practice fuel-efficient driving techniques. Career seekers curious about driving truck should research not only what the job is about but which fleets value their drivers’ contribution and how. In Canada and BC, a great resource is the list of employers who are honoured annually as Top Fleet Employers by Trucking HR Canada, a partner organization for industry on human resources issues. There are 63 employers across Canada on this list, many located or with terminals in BC, who have received recognition for best HR practices among applicants. The list grows each year. In our province this summer, four Top Fleet Employers had openings for Class 1 drivers in Burns Lake, Chilliwack, Chetwynd, Grand Forks, Langley, Kamloops and Kelowna.
Imagine the contribution you could make. Truck driving is only one job among many the industry needs to fill, but changes are happening throughout companies and fleets, with technology, a focus on HR, and the attitude that we can adapt, especially if enough changemakers join us. Happy National Trucking Week to the industry and to those thinking about trucking careers. We look forward to your support.
- Dave Earle is president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association
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