Last month I received a phone call from Robert Nogier, an Alberta trucking veteran who suffered an injury that prevents him from being able to drive truck (see pg. 8 for story).
Since falling off his truck in Chicago his wrists have been causing him trouble, making it impossible for him to steer a truck for hours at a time. His question to me was “What do I do now?”
I really didn’t have an answer for him.
Nogier is passionate about trucking. He has been driving since he was just a kid and he says he just assumed he’d drive until the day he died. He’s never wanted to work in any other industry or tackle another profession. Even if he’s now limited to a desk job, he hopes he can at least find one within the trucking industry.
But everywhere he’s turned he has faced roadblocks since he lacks experience working in an office environment.
Nogier isn’t the only one who has found himself in this position. Sadly, trucking takes its toll on the body and for many drivers there comes a time when, due to illness or injury, it’s just not possible to continue driving. But unlike many other industries, there seems to be a mentality in trucking that a driver should stick to driving trucks.
Sure this industry is facing a shortage of qualified drivers, but by offering drivers opportunities outside the cab a carrier may find that more people want to drive for that company.
As Transcom’s Roy Craigen said at a recent seminar: “That driver you just promoted to supervisor becomes your selling point for the next guy who comes through that door.”
Too few trucking companies offer their drivers opportunities to develop skills that would help them make the transition to a different type of job within the company. While many drivers may have no interest in working a desk job, it’s a good idea to develop other skills just in case you find yourself in Nogier’s shoes – and it can happen to anyone.
When looking for a carrier to work for, why not ask about what opportunities exist within the company besides driving? Does the company promote its drivers to management positions? Does it offer training on an ongoing basis? Does it provide drivers the opportunity to give safety presentations to his or her peers thus developing valuable skills that can be used down the road? Does the equipment the drivers are provided with facilitate ongoing learning from the cab?
These are questions worth asking.
The trucking industry has had serious problems attracting people to the profession. Transportation isn’t always perceived as a glamorous industry, especially among young people.
Nogier is only 37 years old and he still has a lot to give this industry.
People aren’t exactly lining up for a chance to spend their entire careers in trucking. We can’t afford to be turning away the people who want to be here.