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Driver shortage discussed at APTA meeting

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. -- The ongoing driver shortage was addressed in a session at the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) conference here today.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The ongoing driver shortage was addressed in a session at the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) conference here today.

A discussion panel was assembled at the Oct. 23 afternoon session to discuss both problems and solutions to the prevailing shortage issue.

Moderator Kelly Henderson, the executive director of the Trucking Human Resources Sector Council Atlantic, welcomed Angela Splinter, CEO Trucking HR Canada and Paul Easson, president of Eassons Transport to the discussion.

“I think it is vital that driver shortage is one of the topics that kicked off the conference,” said Henderson. “It shows that people understand that this shortage is a serious issue.”

Henderson reported that by 2020, the industry could face a driver shortage of 33,000 truck operators.

Splinter echoed this statistic by adding that the numbers do fluctuate from 25,000 to 33,000, but could realistically be higher.

“These numbers don’t include private fleets,” said Splinter.

In the past, well-documented research has been conducted that suggests a shortage is imminent, but numbers required quantification.

“We need to look at demand and productivity,” said Splinter, noting that in periods of higher demand, shortages will peak.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has created a Blue Ribbon Task Force to tackle operational concerns, chiefly the driver shortage.

“We are working together to address the driver shortage,” Splinter said. “We are trying to do our part at a national level and while some people don’t believe there is a shortage, we absolutely see that there is a decrease in workers.”

“We keep hearing about the perfect storm or the demographic tsunami,” Splinter said. “We are facing pending retirements, a workforce with 20% of drivers over 54 years old and 12% under 30.”

Additional concerns the Blue Ribbon Task Force contend with are image and attraction issues.

Currently, only 3% of drivers are women and another 3% are immigrants.

“We need to start recruiting from non-traditional sources: women, immigrants and aboriginals,” said Splinter.

The task force has also developed a call to action, which has been dubbed BRFT.

First, the “Basics”, such as compensation and benefits, are reviewed. Second, “Respect” is addressed – the image of drivers needs to shift so it is recognized as a professional occupation. Third, “Training” needs improvement and last, “Family” has to be taken into account, as drivers deserve a fair work/life balance.

“We really need to amend the NOC code,” said Splinter.

A NOC code, or the National Occupation Classification, is a system that authoritatively ranks occupations in Canada. At present, truck driving has one of the lowest NOC code scores.

“We need to raise the bar,” said Splinter. “We can achieve this by updating these national occupational standards.”

Mandatory entry-level training, or an apprenticeship type model, according to Splinter, can improve the current standard.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force also initiated an inquest with young people and guidance counselors looking to understand what needs the upcoming workforce require.

“Youth are looking for occupations with environmentally friendly work practices, continuous learning opportunities and high-safety standards,” said Splinter.

Easson joined the panel to also address the issue from a fleet perspective.

He shared anecdotal evidence to support the current shortage issue concerns.

“I knew a driver who always said, ‘if you can’t tell me what the mission is, I can’t prepare for it,’” said Easson. “Drivers live in a short mission world and they need to know where they are going.”

According to Easson, the job can be demoralizing when truckers are forced to wait for their schedules or left idling at a shipper’s facility waiting for their truck to unload. Rearranging operations so dispatch plans are forward looking will aid wait times.

The issue of time was stressed when Easson addressed the conference attendees.

“Take long haul trips and break them up so drivers aren’t on the road and away from their family for a week or more,” said Easson.

Easson’s other suggestions to help build a stronger workforce with less turnover include maintaining a fleet with better equipment and rewarding the positive in the work environment.

“We need to celebrate good news, “ said Easson.

At Eassons Transport, employees are given the chance to reward coworkers with the Better Safer Easier reward.

“Employees can recognize their coworkers that help make their jobs better, safer and easier,” Easson said.

These simple steps, Easson said, will help alleviate subsequent shortage problems.

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8 Comments » for Driver shortage discussed at APTA meeting
  1. Raj Sandhu says:

    great article and we need more transport companies that understand driver needs.

    I enjoyed reading Eassons views.

  2. nitin says:

    I can come and start my carrier as trucker ,I am from India 32 Year old ,right now I have a car license.. tell me the process to come over there???

  3. poor boy says:

    for months Ive listened to all these so called experts
    with their theories on how to help these companies retain drivers. the main problem is with our antiquated labour laws that haven’t kept up with the times.This is not “Rocket science” 24hrs in a day 10 for sleeping according to our log books. 14 hrs for productivity. IE driving, traffic, loading, unloading,call me back in an hour game and so on. Pay by the hour and most safety problems will take of themselves.The labour laws need to be changed to fit today’s type of trucking,most of these trucking companies manipulate the rules to suite their purpose. Sure the labour rules says after 60hrs it’s overtime great in theory. At the end of your 3rd day lets say for shits and giggles your company makes you sit some place for 24hrs because they don”t have freight,that blows the 60hrs in 7 days apart plus a day with no income sitting at some truckstop.I don’t think these labour laws regarding trucking have changed much since the 1930s.The laws have to change across the country in order to have a level playing field for everyone.I could go and on but i think most people reading this will get the idea of it.

  4. ALP says:

    Well I guess I am tired of hearing all the things companies are doing to keep drivers happy After 25 years in the industry it is no different now than then only you cannot run 24/7 to make money Companies tell everyone we are the top in the industry if so why you always looking for drivers why are drivers always unhappy with there work schedule Very simple pay for what you do live up to your promises We all can agree that rates are suppose to be at an all time low Suppose to be if this is the case the cost of products & services have not decreased so who is making the bucks here The food industry say transport costs are up we are told , transport companies they are down so where is the truth who do you believe someone is making the bucks of a drivers hard work Does not look like retailers are hurting for a dollar or transport companies whether privately owned or owned by share holders If any other trade or worker put up with the delays, lies that are given to drivers the country it would shut down I do not want a medal of honor for what I do just treat me right & pay me The sad part about all of this bull is I LOVE what I do & everyone else is tell me what to work ,when to rest & what I can make know anywhere else this happens The more I put in the less I get back come on people these days are gone do not be so greedy share the wealth the trucking industry will be a better place Everyone know you get what you pay for

  5. Mike D says:

    It is easy for us not in the game to come up with all the answers, just like the Monday morning quarterback. I am only a part time driver now but when i had trucks and drivers , my turnover was low. My solution was salary. There are 248 days in the year that a driver can work. I paid an equal pay for 52 weeks as long as a driver worked 248 days. It was my job to keep the truck rolling. If he sat in a truck stop, he still got paid. Also, i paid $32.00 per day extra for every day he was away from home. One other thing, my dad started me driving on the farm at age 14,had my class 1 with air at 18, still love driving today. Too many young people are lost to trucking because you can’t train teenagers anymore.

  6. john says:

    To whom It May Concern A.P.T.A.- The reason for driver shortage is as It’s been for 30 years [MONETARY]How many meetings regarding “DRIVER SHORTAGE” before the Corporate realizes a wage scale equal to other trades will end this false challenge! Canadians are willing to work in the “Trucking” Industry including many of our veterans and school graduates if a reasonable return on investment and time is included! — John W. Thankyou

  7. Bigdog says:

    Lose the outdated mileage pay and start to pay by the hour like all trades in this country of ours and you will see how fast the so called driver shortage is eliminated.

  8. trucker, bat out of hell says:

    I can more more money running at 90kmph in the west then I can back east, with all of the towns and reduced speed limits, hours of service etc.

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