Discard ‘cookie cutter’ ideals to attract diverse trucking workforce

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Canada’s trucking industry will need to tap into a diverse labor pool to meet its recruiting needs, but that could require a diverse array of strategies as well.

If they’re to make trucking a career, women, youth and other underrepresented people must be able to see themselves in the driver’s seat, be welcomed, and enjoy the job, said Carol Moen, president and CEO of Women Building Futures, during a panel discussion at Alberta Motor Transport Association’s leadership conference in Edmonton.

Picture of Melissa De Carvalho
(File photo: Leo Barros)

Women won’t stay at a job if the environment is not safe and inclusive, she said. And for some, being a mother is important.

In a recent poll, career-seeking women said they were reluctant to enter trucking because they were worried about being harassed, added Trucking HR Canada chief program officer Craig Faucette.

For youth, flexible work arrangements were second in importance after compensation, so companies need to explore that avenue if they want to employ the young workers, he said.

Structuring the job

Carriers need to throw away their cookie-cutter ideal of what a driver is, said Carl Cave, risk manager, Rosenau Transport. “For women, structure her job and tasks around what will keep her coming back to work,” he said. Find out what motivates youth and use that for recruitment, he added.

People seated on chairs on stage at AMTA's conference
From left, moderator Matt Day, Carl Cave, Carol Moen and Craig Faucette during a discussion at Alberta Motor Transport Association’s leadership conference in Edmonton, AB. (Photo: Leo Barros)

Confident men within the industry have a role to play by helping lift the potential of women and youth alike, Moen said. While policies and rules must be put into place first, everyone must still buy in to them. Enforcement there is key, as are managed expectations, she said.

“Get rid of culture busters and better people will enter your organization,” Moen said, referring to people whose attitudes wear down a company’s culture.

Members of a diverse workforce will celebrate and broadcast their successes, she added. And when that happens, others will take note and see themselves reflected in that workplace.

Successes also build on each other. Cave recommended welcoming the children of existing staff into a company to help further bolster the workforce.

The broad changes will involve investments, of course. Faucette, for example, referred to the way high training costs can make it difficult to attract new longhaul truckers. But there’s help available, such as wage incentives, driver training grants, and student work placement programs.

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Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca

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