TORONTO, Ont. - George Warn, a professional driver with Cavalier Transport and an Ontario Road Knight, sits at the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) main office subtly doing one of the things he does...
CHATTY: Medeiros and Warn talked about anything and everything trucking.
TORONTO, Ont. – George Warn, a professional driver with Cavalier Transport and an Ontario Road Knight, sits at the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) main office subtly doing one of the things he does best: educate the public about the trucking industry.
In this case it’s a public of only one – 20-year-old Mark Medeiros, a recent high school graduate – but the talk is no less meaningful to either man.
Warn highlights what it’s like to work in the trucking industry, and with the younger of the two close to making vital decisions about his career, not a single word falls on deaf ears. The discussion winds its way through shifting techniques, combination sizes and even the difficulties associated with making right turns in the city.
“Are you guys allowed in the passing lane? … What are the blind spots like in a truck? … What does it take to become a trucker?” Medeiros’ questions come in relatively rapid succession. He’s not just being polite, it’s obvious that Warn has managed to reach him and he’s not just faking interest in a driving career.
Along the way, Warn even manages to teach Medeiros a thing or two about sharing the road with commercial vehicles, which, as he states during their conversation, “most people in cars don’t understand.”
Whether or not he’ll ever go on to work in the trucking industry is obviously something no one could say with any degree of certainty on this day. But one thing is for sure; Medeiros will forever have a new found respect for the truckers he encounters on life’s many highways.
Staring down the barrel of a massive worker shortage, the ideal situation for David Bradley, president of the OTA, would obviously be for every career-torn teenager to talk to a model trucker like Warn.
Even considering the hundreds of appearances Warn and his Road Knight buddies will make over the next two years, that simply isn’t going to happen. But the association has seen the value in getting its message out to the workers of tomorrow and has come up with what it sees as the next best thing.
The aggressive new strategy – dubbed Career Highways by the OTA – and its 11-video backbone, were made possible through a partnership with Human Resources Development Canada. It throws a spotlight on industry job opportunities and uses a music video to help dispel some of the myths about trucking and professional drivers.
The OTA will send each high school in the province a sample copy – called the tour video – plus the facilitators’ guide. Schools can order the remaining videos free of charge by returning the offer card to the association before June 15.
“Trucking is an essential service,” says David Bradley, OTA president. “Canada’s trucking industry already has an immediate need for 50,000 men and women to drive its trucks and others to operate its IT, sales, dispatch and maintenance departments.”
Like many other industries, trucking is facing an impending labor shortage. What makes his industry’s plight much worse, he adds, are the demographics of today’s driver pool. Currently trucking relies heavily on those 55 and older and is almost devoid of employees under 25. To make matters worse, the OTA reports the pool of 33- to 55-year-olds is expected to shirk by 25 per cent over the next five years.
The videos explore key functional areas in a trucking environment: fleet maintenance; administration; company driver; dispatch and operations; information technology; owner/operator driver; safety and loss prevention; as well as dock and warehouse operations.
The system is designed to let people know the trucking industry offers loads of opportunity for individuals with a variety of education, experience and backgrounds.
Opportunities exist for university and college graduates, as well as for high school graduates who prefer on-the-job training. n