If you’ve been around the trucking industry for any length of time, you’ve no doubt noticed the shift of demographics over the past several years. The traditional Canadian driving force is aging, and not being replaced with young people coming off the farm, as was previously the case.
Meanwhile, the void is being filled by more new Canadians, especially those from India. These drivers have embraced the trucking industry – particularly in the Vancouver and Toronto areas – because the profession offers them an opportunity to quickly earn a decent income and to pursue their dreams of a better life here in Canada.
To date, this shifting demographic has largely been anecdotal. Truck dealers, recruiters, and fleet managers all acknowledge the increasing prevalence – and importance – of the South Asian community in the trucking industry. But are these anecdotal observations accurate? And what does it mean for those in the industry? How can fleets more effectively attract and integrate drivers from various ethnic backgrounds? How well do we understand cultures that are different from our own?
This month marks the start of a new series, The Changing Face of Trucking, an unprecedented deep dive into the changing demographics in the Canadian trucking industry. And the project goes well beyond the pages of Truck News. Other Newcom Media trucking publications will also be examining the issue, including Truck West, Today’s Trucking, Transport Routier, and the soon-to-be relaunched Road Today, a national trucking magazine written for the South Asian community.
Each publication will focus on the geographic areas they cover, in our case Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. As part of this project, we analyzed in detail Canadian census data dating back to 1991. What we found only confirmed what we suspected: that the Canadian trucking industry is in midst of a major shift in demographics.
Consider that in 1996, only 3.5% of Canadian truck drivers were a visible minority, while in 2016 that number rose to 24.5%. Also, in 1996 only 1.8% of truck drivers in Canada were identified as South Asian, while that number is 17.8% today – and even higher in Ontario (25.6%) and B.C. (34.6%).
As part of The Changing Face of Trucking series, we will be highlighting some of the success stories within this demographic. But we won’t shy away from the more controversial topics either – including racism in trucking, which Harry Rudolfs covers in this month’s issue. Fortunately, his findings were that it is on the decline, and my personal conversations with recruiters supports that same conclusion.
We hope you enjoy our in-depth coverage of this topic this month and in the months to come. There’s no end date for this project – we will simply cover this important issue as long as it needs to be covered. In the end, we hope we can help your business better understand – and benefit from – the changing demographics in the trucking industry.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies