THRSC conference to tap idle labour pool

by Adam Ledlow

TRURO, N.S. – The Trucking Human Resources Sector Council (THRSC) is looking to tap non-traditional outlets for finding new drivers at its Trucking Industry Employment Conference in Truro, N.S. Jan. 27. The day-long conference will include a panel presentation conducted by current employees from the industry, a question and answer period, and a workshop on meeting the needs of prospective employees.

“We acknowledge that there is a driver shortage and we know that there’s not one fix, so our board has recognized that we have to look at other options that are available,” said Kelly Henderson, executive director of the THRSC.

The conference stems off from a series of initiatives that were started about a year ago by the Council. These initiatives involved attracting demographic groups that have traditionally been ignored by the trucking industry, such as workers over 45, women and members of First Nations communities.

“We no longer have a line-up of suitable applicants at the door. Our industry doesn’t attract as many people as it needs to. All these people would make great employees and traditionally, we haven’t capitalized on that,” said Dave Miller of Eassons Transport, who also serves as chairman of the THRSC.

Miller will be making a presentation on employment opportunities and the benefits and requirements of working in the trucking industry. Vaughn Sturgeon, chairman of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and owner of Warren Transport, will also be presenting.

One of the initiatives that had been underway prior to the conference was the One Journey project. It was a program which targeted people receiving government assistance who were looking for a way back into the workforce.

“We took someone who would not normally have the opportunity, but wanted the challenge of going through the program, becoming gainfully employed and changing their life, and try to give them a leg up,” Miller said.

The participants were screened to meet hiring criteria and subsequently put through training to work on their interviewing, interpersonal and business skills. Those making it through the initial training were then schooled on how to be truck drivers. A few participants are now doing internships with carriers involved in the program and are slated to be working full-time in the industry this month.

Groups partnering with the One Journey project include the Department of Education, Sunbury Transport Ltd., Armour Transportation Services, Eassons Transport, Commercial Safety College and the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.

The conference is the second effort by the THRSC to tap equity groups for possible workers. About a year and a half ago, the Council met with other groups to try and open the lines of communication.

“We have opened the doors of communication with a couple different Aboriginal groups, the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association and some women’s employment groups. At least now they’re showing an interest in our industry which is a lot better off than we were before,” Miller said.

While the conference will prove a learning experience for prospective truck drivers, it will also prove insightful for the organizers.

“Holding the conference will be kind of an opportunity for us to…find out what we need to do to make (these groups) feel welcome in the trucking industry,” Henderson said. “We’re looking to find out what the barriers are and why they don’t seem to consider trucking industry an option.”

The key in all of this, according to Miller, is to leave no stone unturned when looking for potential drivers.

“I think we’ve got a heck of an industry. Some of the nicest, and most honourable people around work in one of the toughest industries there is. One of the things we’ve done a very poor job of as an industry is self-promotion. We don’t get a lot of chances to speak with equity groups and say, ‘We provide great jobs, great opportunities and long-term careers.’ Getting everyone together under one roof where they can learn more about trucking and we can learn more about them, we can’t lose.”

For more information call the THRSC at 902-895-6984.

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