Q: What has to be done to attract new candidates into trucking careers?
August 1, 2000
NEW MINAS, N.S. - A recent study suggests that Nova Scotia's trucking industry is in the midst of a human resources crisis. Carriers want to expand, but there's a shortage of trained professionals to ...
NEW MINAS, N.S. – A recent study suggests that Nova Scotia’s trucking industry is in the midst of a human resources crisis. Carriers want to expand, but there’s a shortage of trained professionals to put in the driver’s seat.
We went to the Irving Truck Stop in New Minas, nestled in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and asked truckers what they think has to be done to attract new people to the job.
Don Keddy works for Keltic Transportation, headquartered in Moncton, N.B., hauling frozen foods with a 1999 International. Aside from the need for higher wages and lower fuel prices, he thinks that hours of service rules need to change, especially when he compares the trucking industry to other professions. “I think you should be able to drive 13 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Then, he says, workers would be able to earn a decent living.
Reg Comeau, a 21-year veteran owner/operator, doubts that there really is a driver shortage. “If there is a shortage we should be making good money, based on supply and demand,” he says, taking a break from life in his ’97 Peterbilt, hauling frozen food for Waterville, N.S.-based David Brown United.
“If there is a shortage, it is because of the way companies use drivers. It is pretty hard to run an 80 mph dispatch in a 60-miles-an-hour safety zone,” he adds, referring to how dispatchers sometimes thrust new loads on tired drivers and then harp about their logbooks.
If the industry wants to attract new owner/operators, carriers simply have to up their rates, says Raymond MacDonald. He drives a ’99 Mack for Sargent Trucking, based in Mars Hill, Me. He has a dedicated run into Canada hauling peat moss and orange juice. “I know guys who are losing their trucks because they can’t afford to buy the fuel and make their payments. That’s got to be the biggest issue nowadays.”
Jim Underwood hauls a flatbed B-train behind a ’97 Peterbilt for G.K. Morse and Sons Trucking of Centreville, N.S. He thinks the industry would be more attractive to newcomers with, “more money, sensible government regulations and give us our meals back.” The latter, of course, refers to the fact that Canadian truckers can only deduct 50 per cent of their meal costs, compared to the 80 per cent deductions they used to enjoy.
Roy Comeau is a 30-year trucker and former owner/operator who now works for G.K. Morse and Sons Trucking in Centreville, N.S., hauling anything that will fit on a B-train behind a ’99 Kenworth. And to him, the answer is money.
“We gotta start getting paid what we are worth. I was making $45,000 in ’76. That’s what I’m making now. Why would anyone want to do this? Why should I go away from my family two weeks at a time, eating out of a cooler like a dog because I can’t afford to eat properly?” n