TORONTO, Ont.– The Government of Canada has committed $421,720 to develop mentorship programs that will help further the careers of women in the nation’s trucking industry, and identify best practices that can better support the hiring and retention of under-represented demographic groups.
The funding was announced this morning by Dr. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, during Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive Leadership Summit.
The financial support includes $296,720 to develop mentorship programs that will advance the roles of women in Canada’s trucking industry, and an additional $125,000 to identify best practices for hiring members of under-represented groups.
“Our government’s number one priority is to create jobs and opportunities for all Canadians. One of the ways we do this is by supporting community-based projects that support economic security and prosperity for women. We know that when women succeed, our entire country prospers,” Leitch said.
Addressing the conference, Leitch said that women enter roles they might not ordinarily be in because of someone showing them leadership.
After a funding announcement, Minister Leitch drove Joanne Mackenzie’s pink Peterbilt on a celebratory lap around the Sheraton parking lot.
“I have been spending a lot of time on boards and we published a report last June about mentorship. It’s about championing, and about having someone in your own industry who understands your career path from beginning to end. If you don’t have an advocate at the table with you talking about what you are qualified for it’s all the more challenging,” Leitch said, noting that she had two important mentors, (one of which was the late MP Jim Flaherty) champion her and assist her in developing her career as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and as a politician.
Leitch noted that she expects to be launching a program focusing on “championing” later this month.
It’s also about creating flexibility in the workforce, Leitch said.
There are career opportunities to be found. While the Conference Board of Canada has projected a shortage of 25,000 to 33,000 for-hire truck drivers as early as 2020, fleets and other industry employers have yet to effectively reach every demographic group of potential employees.
Women account for 48% of the workers in Canada’s labour force, but just 3% of the nation’s truck drivers, mechanics, technicians and cargo workers. They are also underrepresented among industry managers (11%), parts technicians (13%), dispatchers (18%), and freight claims/safety and loss prevention specialists (25%).
“The funding announced today will play a key role in an action plan we have developed to address many of the challenges faced by women in Canada’s trucking industry,” said Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR Canada. “This, combined with the steps to reach out to other underrepresented demographic groups, will help industry employers recruit and retain the skilled workers they need.”
In her speech opening the conference, Splinter said that it’s not about affirmative action or employment equity audits, it’s about “not overlooking” 50% of the potential workforce in Canada.
“CTA’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage identified the need for carriers to look at ways to recruit prospective drivers from non-traditional domestic sources,” said David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). “This work led by Trucking HR Canada will create practical tools that will assist fleets in their efforts to address future labour needs.”
Bradley championed the partnership of Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Women with Drive project.
“It’s about having skin in the game,” he said. “The numbers don’t lie. The struggle for equality continues in the trucking industry. We are still very much a male-dominated industry. We have a shortage of drivers, managers, senior executives. We have the oldest workforce in the country. Why wouldn’t we look to fill those jobs with women?” On behalf of the association I represent we are committed to working with Trucking HR Canada and our governments,” Bradley said.
The Women with Drive action plan is guided by a national advisory committee that includes female managers, directors, presidents and C-level executives from across the trucking industry. In addition to promoting trucking as a career of choice for women, the plan will also educate employers about the steps that help to create an inclusive workplace.
Julia Kuzeljevich is managing editor of Motortruck magazine, as well as sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics and www.ctl.ca. With nearly seven years’ experience writing for the Canadian transportation industry, Julia specializes in human interest, in-depth news and business articles of interest to the trucking and logistics sectors. Julia has a degree in languages with a postgraduate specialization in journalism, and work experience in the air transportation industry. All posts by Julia Kuzeljevich