TSQ: What does the industry need to do to combat the driver shortage?
July 1, 2012
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The driver shortage is – to put it mildly – one of the more contentious issues in the world of trucking. The division of opinions couldn’t be more stark, with one side arguing that the shortage is,...
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The driver shortage is – to put it mildly – one of the more contentious issues in the world of trucking. The division of opinions couldn’t be more stark, with one side arguing that the shortage is, perhaps, the single-greatest issue facing the future of trucking, while the other side claims that the alleged shortage is mere myth.
Our June cover story, “CTA issues landmark report,” examined the issue via the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s report, touted by the group as one of the most “comprehensive and honest” attempts to address the problem to date. The report, compiled by CTA’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage, attempts to tackle both questions surrounding the shortage as well as solutions to fixing the problem. The need for increases in pay, training, and quality of life were among the possible fixes listed in the report, but will really keep drivers in their seats? We went to the Husky Truck Stop in Mississauga, Ont. to find what drivers say the industry can do to help recruit and retain more drivers.
Gerald Deley, a driver with McKevitt Trucking out of Mississauga, Ont., says that almost as important as pay is trucking company’s willingness to support a work-life balance for their employees.
“The main thing is – for the young people – the money and getting home almost every weekend,” Deley said. “Sometimes when they say they’re going to get you home, some of the companies, they don’t get you home. That’s a big part: home time and pay.”
Haynesley Bain, a driver with United Van Lines out of Mississauga, Ont., says new drivers should be getting a greater amount of on-road experience under their belts via apprenticeships, noting that learning the ins and outs of the industry from veterans will help green drivers decide if trucking is the right career for them.
“I think they should have a program going on where these guys, new drivers, get into the business and all that should go on the road with the experienced drivers a certain amount, and the driver should get certain pay for training these guys,” Bain said. “Let them see, let them sit there, go take a couple of trips and see what (the experienced driver) does, and you got your questions, you ask them.
“That’s why a lot of these companies don’t have the drivers. Because they’re not willing either to put the money into it, to get them the experience.”
Dalgit Heer, a driver with Canada Cartage out of Brampton, Ont., says that pay is, without question, the number one force keeping drivers out of the industry.
Heer says that paying drivers adequately could have a domino effect on the industry: companies will be happy because they’re able to retain more drivers, and drivers will opt to do their job better because they’re taken care of financially.
Michael Gower, an Ayr, Ont.-based driver, says that the driver shortage is a myth – plain and simple. “If this alleged shortage was true, then freight would be stacked up at dock doors,” Gower told Truck News. “If it was true, CEO’s of major manufacturers would be on the front page of The Globe and Mail business section bemoaning the fact that they can’t get their product to market. If the alleged driver shortage was true, then the value of drivers would have shot up as would their remuneration just like the value of corn and soybeans.
“What fleets suffer from is driver churn due to the low driver pay and poor driver treatment. If carriers would solve – they know how to do it – their HR problems and stop the revolving door then their problems would go away.”
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