Reel them in when they’re young

I took part in a live Facebook panel to celebrate the 10th anniversary release of Wowtrucks’ annual calendar a few weeks back. Truck drag racer Gord Cooper, who drives the Smokin’ Gun, was also part of the panel, and in addition to calling the drivers featured in this year’s calendar, we had some lighthearted discussions about various issues in the industry.

One common theme I heard from the drivers when we asked why they wanted to become a truck driver was the impact seeing “those big, cool trucks” on road had on them when they were kids. This is something I hear from drivers all the time, which solidifies my belief – and several others in the industry – that a school outreach program would be beneficial to the efforts to get more people interested in driving as a profession.

Last month, I spoke about the difficulty some face finding financial assistance for a Class 1 driver training program, and this certainly is an issue that needs addressing. This is not unique to the driving profession. Paying for college, university, or trades school tuition is tough, and one way to combat this is knowing what career path you want to take earlier rather than later.

Some industry members, like the Road Knights, visit students and have received positive feedback as a result.

An appreciation of a certain profession is also fostered at a younger age, and will be reflected in a person’s overall body of work if they grow up building that admiration.

During the Facebook chat with Wowtrucks, David Benjatschek iterated that the calendar is not just about the trucks, but the drivers themselves. A well-looked after truck goes hand-in-hand with a driver who appreciates and respects his employer and profession, so it is no surprise that the drivers featured are not only great drivers, but good people, as well – good people who have had an appreciation of the driver profession fostered within them for some time. It is not just something they woke up one morning thinking they had to do to make ends meet.

This is not to say you can’t learn to be a great driver later on in life. I’ve met plenty of drivers who had all the tools for success and were doing their profession proud after taking up the job at a more mature age. If we want to put a dent in the driver shortage, however, getting people excited about the job at an early age would help get more candidates into the fold, candidates who would more often than not have an ingrained respect for the driver profession.

This outreach effort, coupled with a financially-realistic path to the driver’s seat, needs to be addressed if we are to get more quality candidates excited about this industry.

I’d like you to share with me your story on what first got you interested in driving as a career. There are many who get into the industry because they followed in a family member’s footsteps, something that again is not unique to the trucking industry. But there are also those who needed to see what being a truck driver was all about after seeing that cool truck roaring down the highway.

What’s your story?

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and 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.

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