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NTW conference and symposium to address key issues

EDMONTON, Alta. - This year's National Transportation Week Conference, held May 26-29 in Edmonton, Alta., will be geared towards stimulating practical dialogue that benefits the guy behind the wheel o...

TOUGH CALL: How will transportation attract young workers?
TOUGH CALL: How will transportation attract young workers?

EDMONTON, Alta. – This year’s National Transportation Week Conference, held May 26-29 in Edmonton, Alta., will be geared towards stimulating practical dialogue that benefits the guy behind the wheel of a truck as much as the person at the head of the boardroom table.

Dubbed Transportation: Competing in the World Economy, the conference and its coinciding symposium will feature nearly 60 guest speakers who will represent a wide array of transportation sectors.

“In the conference itself, what we’re trying to do is have an agenda so that guys who are actually working in the real world can come and learn something,” says Mark Hemmes, vice-chairman of the conference steering committee.

“Quite often you see conferences that are geared to policy-makers and academics. We’re trying to gear this to real-world operating types and have information that will allow them to walk out of the conference saying ‘I really learned something I can take back to work and use next week.'”

Among the issues up for discussion at this year’s conference is transportation infrastructure, new technology and how it applies to transportation, how to improve the public perception of the transportation industry in general, as well as logistics and supply chain management.

As well, the National Symposium on Transportation will feature a town-hall type discussion on how to raise public awareness about the important role transportation plays in the nation’s economy. An online bulletin board has already been posted at to get the ball rolling and stimulate conversation ahead of time.

“It’s intended to start a discussion thread a couple of months before the symposium starts,” says Hemmes. “We want to start the discussion on the issues right now and get some of these ideas to the front before the conference starts so you’re not walking into the whole thing completely blind.”

There are already a few differing opinions being voiced on the bulletin board, which will be considered for discussion during the symposium itself.

“If you look at transportation as an industry, it doesn’t get the same kind of public profile from the general media,” says Hemmes. “What we want to talk about in the symposium is how do you bring some profile to the transportation industry in the same way that the health industry and education industry has?”

As for the conference itself, Hemmes is confident there’ll be something of interest to anyone who is involved in the transportation industry.

“We’ve got some really good speakers from the trucking industry lined up,” says Hemmes.

Of the nearly 60 speakers lined up for the conference itself, a number of familiar faces within the trucking industry will be taking to the podium.

Among them will be Murray Mullen, president of Mullen Transportation who will be discussing transportation technology.

Dr. Rod Thompson of Alberta Transportation will discuss transportation infrastructure, and Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, Ed Stelmach will be on-hand as a keynote speaker on May 26.

Barry Davy, vice-president of Trimac will be discussing logistics and supply chain management, and a host of other speakers will share their expertise on everything from technology to attracting and retaining skilled workers.

The conference will wrap up with a speech by federal Transport Minister, David Collenette, and the presentation of the Transportation Person of the Year Award.

Ultimately, Hemmes hopes the conference will shed some light on the importance of transportation in Canada and dispel some of the myths that surround the industry.

“What we want to do is, as an industry, get everybody into a room together and have a hearty discussion about what we should do to enhance our profile in both policy-makers’ eyes and the general public’s eyes,” says Hemmes.

That, in turn, will help address some key issues facing the transportation industry such as the shortage of skilled workers, he says.

“Look at the trucking companies right now and the trouble they have retaining employees,” points out Hemmes.

“A lot of them are just starving for drivers.”

For more information about the conference, visit its Web site at

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