Trucking faces many challenges but perhaps none more daunting than that of finding, training and retaining the right people. To help with the challenge we begin a new column, the Human Edge, contribut...
Trucking faces many challenges but perhaps none more daunting than that of finding, training and retaining the right people. To help with the challenge we begin a new column, the Human Edge, contributed by the professionals of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council.
Canada’s trucking industry needs to fill a growing void in its workforce.
As many as 20,500 of the nation’s truck drivers switch to different occupations each year, according to Canada’s Driving Force, an extensive human resources report released by the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC). And tens of thousands more will be required to meet the needs of a growing economy.
But fleets may be able to expand their available pool of truck drivers by considering non-traditional workers.
The 2001 Census identified trucking as the top employer of Canadian men, with 255,990 of them holding jobs behind the wheel. In comparison, a mere 7,520 truck drivers were women.
While the number of women working behind the wheel doubled in the preceding decade, they still account for less than three per cent of the workforce.
MaryAnn Geertsema, for example, admits she still gets “the look” when arriving at unfamiliar loading docks – despite logging six years and more than 1 million accident-free kilometers at the wheel. “‘Well, you don’t look like a truck driver.’ I get that a lot,” says the Kriska Transportation employee. “I ask, ‘What’s a truck driver supposed to look like?'”
Like many women in the industry, she joined her husband as a team driver, but she also stayed with the job when he switched to another career.
Native Canadians may be another source of future truckers – particularly when a fleet needs to move freight across the Canada-U.S. border.
The aboriginal workers aren’t bound by the same Immigration rules that limit point-to-point truck movements in the U.S., says Roger Anderson, manager of programs and services for the Grand River Employment and Training in Ohswken, Ont., in the heart of the Six Nations Indian Reserve.
And his group, like similar agencies associated with reserves throughout Canada, will offer financial assistance to Native Canadians who want to train for careers at the wheel.
Under existing Immigration guidelines, foreign truckers are not deemed to be “skilled workers”, making it more difficult for them to earn entry into Canada.
“[And] there is no way that a sufficient chunk of future demand for qualified truck drivers can be met exclusively from within Canada,” says David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
But at least one agreement has made it easier for these truck drivers to immigrate to Canada to fill jobs behind the wheel. Under the Canada-Saskatchewan Agreement on Provincial Nominees, signed in November 2002, truck drivers are included in a list of key job skills required by the province.
While under-employed Canadians (those in low-paying careers or part-time jobs) may be another source of workers, they often lack the training funds that would prepare them for careers at the wheel, concludes Canada’s Driving Force.
They may jump at the chance at a new career if offered financial support for their training.
“The major gap, in terms of financial assistance programs, appears to be the individuals who do not fit into either the (Employment Insurance)-eligible or social assistance categories. Often the only assistance available is bank loans,” researchers said.
Still, additional funding could offer the proverbial “hand up” often championed for this group, since schools who participated in the research indicate their placement rates are between 85 and 95 per cent.
Between 75 and 85 per cent of those who rely on financial assistance are able to find and keep trucking-related jobs, according to the CTHRC.
The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) is an incorporated non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors that is representative of stakeholders from the Canadian trucking industry. With the conviction that the best human resources skills and practices are essential to the attainment of excellence by the Canadian trucking industry, the mission of the Council is “to assist the Canadian trucking industry to recruit, train and retain the human resources needed to meet current and long-term requirements”. For more information, go to www.cthrc.com.
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