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Canada’s youth not oblivious to opportunities in trucking: Report

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Young people may not be as down on the trucking industry as many thought, according to new research conducted for Trucking HR Canada.


OTTAWA, Ont. — Young people may not be as down on the trucking industry as many thought, according to new research conducted for Trucking HR Canada.

While today’s youth are concerned about the prospect of long periods away from home, long work hours, poor working conditions and perceived safety risks in the trucking industry, the travel, independence, challenging work and steady employment opportunities do appeal to them. This according to the report ‘Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers: Attracting Canada’s Youth to Opportunities in Trucking.’

The report was based on extensive focus groups, site visits, online surveys and interviews with high school students and educators.

Educators who took part noted students are concerned about extended time away from home and safety risks, but said they are aware of the ongoing need for labour. The educators also expressed concern about low pay rates within the industry.

Other barriers as well were identified by the study. It found today’s youth are less passionate about cars and driving than previous generations, are less likely to have a driver’s licence and likely to be inexperienced drivers into their early 20s.

Still, Trucking HR Canada found the study also offered reason for optimism, as many youth do recognize the availability of jobs within the industry.

“The researchers behind Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers found that Canada’s youth have a relatively positive view of the trucking industry, and are attracted by many of the benefits offered by industry careers,” says Tamara Miller, Trucking HR Canada’s director, programs and services. “This data can be used to refine messages which target youth. A related analysis of school-to-work programs can also be used to guide initiatives that will build bridges between the school system and careers in trucking.”  

The report laid out several key recommendations, including: developing marketing materials and branding elements specifically targeting youth; identifying or creating entry-level career paths into driving occupations, so that youths aged 19-25 can find a role within the industry that may lead to driving careers; developing new industry-education partnerships; and using up-to-date National Occupational Standards, to review the opportunity for high schools and colleges to develop national driving-related curriculum.

To download the full report free of charge, visit the Trucking HR Canada online store.


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11 Comments » for Canada’s youth not oblivious to opportunities in trucking: Report
  1. Bill Blunt says:

    The biggest barrier for youth entering the Trucking profesion is that most employers want 3 year experience. I think the government should develop a program of subsidizing companies to train young drivers.

  2. Angelo Diplacido says:

    I agree … There is still nothing between getting licensed and getting good. New drivers will make mistakes in the early years that can turn them completely off trucking as a career choice. Even veterans make mistakes that cause them to re-evaluate this profession. There are some big numbers in the amount of people holding a CDL that have just walked away from this business out of shear frustration. Until there is a stable catalyst that can transition newbies into pros, they will be left to the devices of trial and error or they will simply walk away. Nothing more than a mill because the proper training was never invested. There are subtle nuances OTR that cannot be taught in school and must be experienced in a hands on environment when the situation presents itself. A piece of paper does not mean “Instant Pro.” Correct me if I’m Wrong but I seem to remember numbers around 25% regarding candidates holding a CDL that are not using it in their employment.

  3. Joy says:

    If a person can have a career that involves less time at work and more time for play for the same money, hmmm, let’s see… It’s the wages that are the problem. That, and getting a start. Nobody wants to hire a newbie. If Dad’s an owner/op with a good reputation, a kid may have a fighting chance in the industry, and that’s because Dad is willing to put his neck on the line for junior. How many Dads are willing to do it? They talk about an apprenticeship program, but nobody wants the administration headaches – especially for a job that really doesn’t pay very well. It’s back to the wages again.

  4. GL says:

    I think we are missing the boat here We need an apprentice program if we are to keep and bring in new drivers. We have to have a program that will keep them in the drivers seat. I think the present form of paying a driver is not very welcoming. Compare the driver to a license mechanic and look at the hour and wage difference. The mechanic start with 10 months of training and gets paid 60% of the wages in most cases. After 4 year of work and Block training he is at full wages and a license Professional. How much does a 5 year drives makes after working 60 to 70 hours a work compare to the license mechanic after 40 hours of work. The first company to start this system will have the Driver shortage and retention problems solved. Now how do we pay for this and still make money?? Look at what you pay a shop per hour to have your unit fixed? It going to take everyone to get on board for this for it to work and for every one to remain competative at the same time. Hope this get the creative juioe flowing

  5. David Dredge says:

    Wages are one of the problems along with companies taking advantage of drivers that don’t have the backbone to stand up to their employers. To many rules and regulations. My kids will NEVER drive a truck because of so many rules that affect how much income I can make. I tell em this all the time and I know for a fact that they will not be a driver.

  6. Lis says:

    Hey GL…there is an apprenticeship program for trucking. It is the Ontario Commercial Tractor-Trailer Driver Apprenticeship Program.
    Here is an excerpt from Ontario.ca archives about the program when it first started:
    This designation as new trade will support the trucking industry’s commitment to training and growth and provide skilled drivers for employers. Apprentices will participate in about 12 weeks of training with a mentor and 40 weeks of on-the-job training. During their training, apprentices will learn to: – Plan trips and inspect equipment – Safely handle and secure cargo – Conduct routine vehicle checks and report problems – Prepare documentation including bills of lading, border crossing and custom forms. Participants will also learn other critical skills, such as developing a deeper understanding of the life-style adjustments of long-distance driving, application of appropriate laws, customer service, safety regulations and the principles of the trucking business.
    Sounds like a good start.

  7. Dave says:

    Anyone who thinks that the reason for low youth interest in the trucking industry is anything but the very low wages is kidding themselves . In the major metro areas the wages are so low that new drivers can easily find low skill and low education jobs that pay far better. General construction labour pays in the 20-28 range. Why would anyone work for less in the truck industry . Many many many metro area trucking firms pay so little that generally they use temporary foreign labour to fill the void and run equipment in very poor condition .

    There are two ways to increase the short fall in the labour force for the truck industry .
    1. Increase wages to attract people.
    2. Increase temp foreign labour from the 3rd world amd keep driving down wages.

    I do think the 2nd option is far more popular in the industry. Its been popular for the trucking firms and gov’t who get voted in because the temp workers become permanent and then vote for the gov’t who brought the policy in.

    The truck industry is in a race to the bottom. We all know it but were just aftaid to say it.
    With no punishment for firms neglecting employees and their equipment and labour laws. Do you really expect anything to change?

  8. John H says:

    Dave your comments are 100% accurate.

    If one thinks that the banks are bad in Canada for abusing the “Temporary Foreign Workers Program” they are rank amateurs compared to what the trucking industry gets away with.

    In the last 25 years wage rates have fallen by 50% for truckers.

    Sixty percent of drivers who hold a license to drive a semi rig have left the industry, or not been able to find work to begin with.

    Canadian graduates of trucking schools by the thousands can not find work because they do not have two years of experience for insurance purposes.

    Then trucking companies go to the Federal Government and claim they can’t find experienced truckers (the term the trucking industry actually uses is “qualified drivers”) – so they import them at taxpayers expense while denying jobs to Canadians because the trucking companies do not want to pay further to train new drivers who are recent trucking school graduates.

    The trucking companies do not want to pay higher insurance premiums for new drivers so they expect the Canadian Government and the Canadian taxpayer to subsidize their massive inefficiencies.

    The taxpayers in Canada in effect pay to import experienced foreigners (ie: “qualifed drivers”) while recent Canadian truck school graduates remain unemployed by the thousands.

    Thousands of foreign truck drivers are brought into Canada so trucking companies can pay lower insurance rates while thousands of truck school graduates here, that are CANADIAN CITIZENS, can not find work because the trucking companies do not want to train them and pick up the expense.

    The two year experience mark is critical for drivers since that is when the insurance rates go down on drivers … and cheaper to get the government to import them for you … falsely claiming you can not find people (“qualified drivers”).

    The Gov’t of Canada relys on the honesty of the trucking companies to tell them this!

    They advertise for drivers with more than two or three years of experience and can not find them .. amazing!

    Temporary Foreign Workers Program massively abused by the trucking industry.

    There is no “truck driver shortage” as the trucking industry is constantly telling the public!

  9. Another Dave says:

    John H….I challenge some of your statistics. Please provide your sources. Drivers wages dropped 50% in 25 years? In 1988 I made 48000.00 per year driving truck. Average wage now is probably 60,000.00 That is not a decrease.
    60% of licensed drivers have left or never entered the workforce? Where is that statistic from? What does that statistic mean? It could mean that too many unemployable people have obtained class A licenses, perhaps with no intention of EVER entering the workforce (UI Retraining perhaps?). Unsubstantiated and out of context statistics are at best useless, and at worst dangerously misleading.
    I for one am sick and tired of the ignorance and misinformation that plagues this industry. The carriers are too often portrayed as penny pinching rip-off artists. Have you sat at boardroom meetings with large carrier executives? Ever owned your own fleet? Ever tried to do it yourself? I don’t mean being an owner op…but sales, scheduling, A/R, A/P, lic, compliance etc.
    I have done, and am doing all three and I will tell you something. Most carriers worth a penny KNOW what their biggest non renewable assets are….safe, efficient, happy drivers/owner ops. Everything else can be purchased. I would love nothing better than to double their take home pay. It would make my hiring and retention so easy. But you know what? THE MONEY ISN’T THERE. How long does a company stay in business when it spends more than it receives?
    I have a lot of money invested in my business, employ several people, and I make a living. If all my money invested over time was in one lump in the bank, I would get more in interest that I make trucking. But it isn’t. Its tied up in rolling stock, accounts receivable, etc. So before you spout off about the villains in this industry, know what you are talking about.

  10. John H says:

    To Another Dave:

    So in 1988 you made $48,000 a year and now you make $60,000 a year.

    Your numbers fail to take into account the Consumer Price Index from 1988 to 2013 which has increased 200%.

    In other words what you could buy with a $20.00 bill in 1998 now takes about $40.00 to buy the same core goods and services. (Housing, food, gas, etc.)

    So if you are now making $60,000 a year in 2013, and you were making $48,000 a year in 1988 … the fact is that you are making FAR,FAR less money in real spending power now that you were then. Your income has gone down.

    When wages become stagnant over a long period of time, and prices go up 200% (1988 to 2013) then your real income has gone down, even though you are still making the same number of dollars.

    Many truckers today make the same rates they made 25 years ago, effectively reducing their real income in half.

    As far as the 60% statistic of the number of people who hold a license to drive a Class Eight truck in Canada not working in the industry, I would reference the article by Canadian journalist Eleanor Beaton in the now defunct HighwayStar Magazine entitled “Unsolved Mystery”. May 2005 issue I believe.

    In the article she discusses the 60% number and strategies that companies are using to bring back into trucking the people who have left it for other careers, but still hold the license … largely because of the dynamics that I have just covered above.

  11. Dave says:

    My neighbours son asked me about trucking and i told him straight up. “Don’t even waste your time”.
    Terrible pay and poor working conditions. Where i live in metro vancouver their are so many truck companies run by people who have flooded the industry with cheap foreign labour . That your better off working as a low educated general labourer.
    The industry is in crisis and no one cares, lets be honest . Would you want you kid doing this? NO! . The only place to make money for truck driving is up north. Ice road truckers have given the youth a very un realistic vision of the industry.
    Its hard to make money as a driver when your competing against a firm that uses cheap foreign labour and crams 3 drivers in one truck and never have the truck stop.

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