Private Links: The ‘gap’ is slowly closing, thanks to CTHRC

by Bruce Richards

I’ve used this space previously to expound on the work of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC), the national sector council for Canadian trucking.

The Council membership includes representation from labour, private and for-hire trucking, drivers, training schools, and government – in short every sector of the trucking community is represented.

A visit to should convince anyone connected with this industry that CTHRC delivers value. Among its many projects CTHRC has: conducted research and reported on labour market issues; tackled career awareness; developed curricula for the training of entry-level drivers and upgrading for experienced professionals; established training standards which had been sorely lacking; conducted research into the driver shortage dilemma on behalf of the industry; and identified essential skills for drivers and other industry occupations.

CTHRC also manages the very successful Youth Employment Strategy (YES) that helps introduce young people to the industry through a program of subsidizing wages for qualified applicants.

It is all work that makes a significant contribution and would otherwise likely not get done.

Recently, CTHRC has been orchestrating a project entitled ‘Closing the Gap,’ which is addressing the causes behind the shortage of qualified drivers in Canada.

Part of the solution being proposed is to reduce the gap between drivers’ licence standards and the expectations the industry has of new commercial drivers. Hence the name of the project.

However the literature confirms that the challenge goes further than licensing.

It encompasses a number of other issues, such as training school accreditation, driver training standards, funding for training and barriers to immigration.

The GAP project began in February of 2006 with a two-day summit, during which participants in open forums identified the key reasons for the shortage of qualified drivers and proposed some action plans to address them.

The results of that meeting were then taken across the country in a series of regional meetings with representation from local industry and government in order to incorporate their views and validate the proposals.

In November, a second summit meeting was held to review the results of the regional meetings and to drill down a little further into the key recommendations that had come out of the regional meetings.

As with the kick-off meeting, the November session included representation from all facets of the industry along with government personnel from a number of jurisdictions – all in open discussion with what appeared to be a real willingness to be creative in addressing the topic.

The discussion was organized around two themes that evolved from the regional meetings: the value of national standards for licensing and testing, and promoting the image of trucking while recognizing driving as a skilled trade.

For each theme and its accompanying recommendations participants were asked to consider whether there were compelling reasons to move forward, and if so how?

Subtext to those questions involved discussion of the type of strategic alliances that would be required to be successful and the specific roles that various sectors within the trucking industry might undertake.

The organization of the November meeting was first rate. The steering committee for the project, the CTHRC staff, and the event facilitators all succeeded in establishing an atmosphere that was conducive to open discussion and as a result the participants were receptive to ideas.

I can also confirm the active participation of those who attended.

Their interest and willingness to discuss ideas openly led to some concrete action plans, the details of which CTHRC will be releasing shortly.

All this to say that while most of us are busy doing our day-to-day jobs and meeting all the demands imposed on us, the CTHRC is working diligently to move the trucking industry forward.

This group deserves the support of the industry as well as the support of the individuals who work in it.

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