Labor shortages in trucking and logistics are an ongoing concern. Employers and employees across the country feel increasing pressure from longer recruiting processes, reduced productivity, and the fact that our pool simply continues to shrink.
To quantify the problem, Trucking HR Canada launched a Labor Market Information Project in the summer of 2018. More recently, we partnered with the Conference Board of Canada on a comprehensive survey to more accurately assess the industry’s labor needs.
This work is important for businesses in trucking and logistics. But it’s also clear that understanding the industry’s labor needs affects all Canadians.
The size of our impact
Transportation is one of 10 critical sectors on which Canada’s economy and national security depends, as identified by Public Safety Canada.
Trucking and logistics companies connect consumers, businesses and international markets that are vital to our economy. According to the Conference Board, the sector carries an estimated $550 billion worth of goods purchased by Canadians, and more than $300 billion worth of Canadian goods destined to export markets (this does not even include wheat and crude oil).
We also support the nine other critical infrastructure sectors: energy and utilities, information and communication technology, finance, health, food, water, safety, government and manufacturing. These pillars of our economy depend on a healthy trucking and logistics industry.
The size of our workforce
In 2019, the trucking and logistics sector employed 3.6% of Canada’s workforce, or just over 650,000 workers. And, while 45% of these employees are truck drivers, we also employ close to 90,000 people in shipping and receiving, close to 88,000 delivery and courier service drivers, and just over 36,000 material handlers at warehouses and distribution centers.
And, let’s not forget the many others who keep operations going: an estimated 40,000 managers, supervisors and administrative staff and 9,000 accounting personnel.
The size of our problem
According to Statistics Canada’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, the trucking industry experienced an average job vacancy rate of 6.8% in 2019. This is the second-highest vacancy rate among Canadian industries after crop production, and more than double the national average of 3.3%.
Put differently, we’re unable to fill roughly one out of 15 open positions, most of them truck drivers. In fact, the total number of truck driver vacancies in Canada has increased from an annual average of 8,600 in 2016 to 20,500 in the first three quarters of last year.
Against this backdrop, it may come as little surprise that 61% of employers who responded to our survey reported difficulties filling truck driver positions within the past year.
One reason is demographics. According to the 2016 census, 32% of truck drivers in Canada are 55 or older compared to 21% of the entire Canadian labor force. More than 6% of our drivers are 65 or older. It is difficult to compete for younger workers.
Call to action
Our industry’s shortage of workers — and drivers in particular — affects individual businesses, Canada’s transportation infrastructure and the overall economy.
We need to work quickly on solutions. As a first step, on March 11, we’re making sure everyone is aware of the severity of the situation.
We’re now finalizing our briefing report in partnership with the Conference Board and will release the results of our Labor Market Information Project at a press conference in Toronto on March 11.
If you cannot make it to Toronto, please register to watch the event live via our webcast. We also encourage you to reach out to your provincial trucking association. Many will be joining via webcast in their offices.
Following the press conference, we will hold a Workforce Knowledge Exchange — a discussion that will focus on identifying specific actions now that we have comprehensive data about our labor market.
Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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