Changing the image — and seeing the future — in trucking

by Angela Splinter

I think it is fair to say that if the trucking industry is to succeed in attracting and recruiting the workers we need, it’s time to tackle the issue we all know too well: we have an image problem.

The trucking industry faces so many questions about its image that it’s hard to know where to start.

For example: Truck driving is perceived as low-skilled, more suited for males, with long hours and low pay. The list goes on. Why does this image persist?

Also, trucking offers a range of career options besides driving. Why are they not on anyone’s radar, especially among people who are just starting out?

So, we decided to ask some questions of our own.

In December, we partnered with Abacus Data, a polling firm that specializes in generational change. Together we asked 2,000 young Canadians about their perception of the trucking industry and whether they’d consider it as a profession.

We confirmed some things, like the notion that trucking is not considered a “career” for many young Canadians, and that many think the work is boring, not respected, and lacking in work-life balance.

We learned some new things. We learned that there’s a misalignment in how young people see the trucking industry and the type of work they see themselves doing. Simply put, they can’t envision themselves in our business.


Compared to other industries, trucking had the weakest brand reputation among young Canadians. In fact, one in four respondents to our survey had no information whatsoever about the trucking industry or the types of jobs that are available. Our biggest competition for these workers? Construction.

In summary, we learned that our image problem is our biggest human resources problem.

The research took a deeper dive into the perceptual issues, and tested possible approaches. And it is here that we see some opportunities. Opportunities that, as an industry, we need to figure out how to seize.

For example, the survey identified people who are interested in truck driving-type work. This group underestimated driver pay rates and overestimated the amount of training time it would take to meet entry-level requirements.

We also learned that our image among prospective drivers was not as negative as we might think. The reality is that the average salary for a driver is higher than the average Canadian wage. The reality is that our industry is innovating in green technologies as well as new approaches offering an improved work-life balance.

This was the silver lining we were hoping to find; an opportunity exists here, we just need to grab a hold of it.

We will continue to work with industry leaders, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance, to take control of the narrative and change industry perception. The CEO of Abacus Data, David Coletto, will be speaking at the Manitoba Trucking Association, Alberta Motor Transport Association, and British Columbia Trucking Association meetings this spring, sharing more insight on our research and sparking the conversation we need to have.

Yes, we need to talk about our industry image. More importantly, we need to start doing something about it, and help the next generation of workers see their future
in trucking.

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  • The trucking image has definitely changed and unfortunately it’s for the worst ………………..

    There is no future in trucking . They will become autonomous vehicles . And concerning the new generation . Ask yourselves how can a certain ethnic group arrive in a country and cut freight rates to the point of hardly covering their fuel costs ?

    Perhaps these articles may enlighten …………….

    Quote :
    ” Police said, Kahlon, a truck driver, who attempted suicide in an Indian jail after his arrest had been in Canada with his family since 1995. He had built a strong network of drug peddlers not only in US and Canada but in some European countries. He is said to have used at least two Canadian-based Hawala operators (underground bankers) to move money.”

    Quote :
    “The defendants utilized tractor-trailers that contained false compartments within the floor of tractor-trailers,” authorities said.
    “In addition to cocaine, the tractor-trailers were used to transport ecstasy and hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the United States from Canada.”

    Quote :

    ” On the condition of anonymity, a police officer of Punjabi origin in Brampton says: “Trafficking of heroine and synthetic drugs coming from India remains the main trade. No doubts many gangs are also smuggling it from Mexico and selling to other countries. Over the years they have widened their net and got into money laundering, kidnapping, extortion, etc. They have brought a bad name to the local transportation business, as many a truck driver has been caught with cocaine and hashish.”

    Good luck !

  • The trucking industry’s “image problem” is something we have talked about on the Trucker Radio Show for several years. For someone who came from media, I am well aware of the trucker stereotypical image held by not only by young people but among all age groups.
    In spite of the ongoing image obstacle, trucking industry leaders appear to have done very little or nothing to alter it. But first, we have to recognize that there is a problem. Discussing the driver shortage ad nauseum at conventions and seminars does nothing the fix the root problem, namely, the trucking image.
    We have a list of missed opportunities to spruce up the popular perception of trucking as a career, yet there is one roadblock. Dollars. Does any fleet owner have a budget line item for “marketing and promotion?” Does the CTA or even the Trucking HR Canada, budget for marketing, promotion and advertising? For example, according to Forbes magazine, for average major companie’ss marketing budgets, as a percent of firm revenues budgets represent approximately 10.9% of overall firm budgets. I wonder what percentage do big fleet owners earmark for promotion and marketing? What about the CTA? We’re not talking about the marketing efforts to secure new clients. I’m talking about social media, television, billboards and radio (but not our show, because that would preaching to choir again)
    Fleet owners already own a promotion and advertising medium. Their trailers! It costs approximately five to six hundred dollars to wrap trailer doors with a positive trucking image. You have a captive audience for your message on the highways. How many times have we four-wheelers been stuck staring at the back end of a trailer? (do not place a message on the sideS unless you want to contribute to distracted driving) That’s just one cheap promotion and marketing solution at your fingertips. It sure beats WE’RE HIRING. CALL 1-800-BLA BLAH.
    Apparently, Canadian trucking industry revenues for 2018 topped 37 billion dollars. Imagine, if the trucking industry earmarked 10.9% to promotion and marketing? You can’t? Okay, imagine just 2%. Can you imagine the impact of 760 million dollars directed at a positive trucking industry message on television, popular magazines, and social media? It’s time to stop preaching to the choir and begin singing to the masses.

  • My question is, why is it only class 1 and 2’s require the new training? why not class 3? Class 3 drivers ( gravel haulers) are just as bad as a class 1 driver.