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B.C. trucking industry focuses in on driver shortage

LANGLEY, B.C. -- The B.C. trucking industry has unveiled a comprehensive plan to resolve a critical professional dr...

LANGLEY, B.C. — The B.C. trucking industry has unveiled a comprehensive plan to resolve a critical professional driver shortage in the province and to help new candidates meet top industry standards to enter the profession.

The British Columbia and Canadian trucking industry currently faces significant challenges, said Paul Landry, president and CEO of the British Columbia Trucking Association (BCTA). We believe our human resources plan is an important road map for dealing with these challenges.

An estimated 37,300 new professional drivers across Canada are needed each year, with at least 4,500 new drivers required annually in B.C. alone.

The B.C. Trucking Industry Strategic Human Resources Plan was a year in the making and offers a range of recommendations to develop minimum driver training standards, improve the industrys image, attract new people from outside the industry and boost retention.

This Plan reflects the trucking industry. Its practical, pro-active and designed to help companies help themselves, said Jim White, general manager of Commercial Logistics, a carrier and member of the industry committee that oversaw the development of the plan.

The booming Western economy, record low unemployment rates and increased activity from the 2010 Winter Olympics and other large infrastructure projects have combined to create a great demand for drivers in this province, noted Landry.

This industry has the largest proportion of people aged 55 and older than any other Canadian industry, added Landry. So as they retire, they must be replaced by younger people. Our plan offers ways to make it easier for those people to find employment in our industry.

Landry said that to address the problem many new drivers face not knowing what the industry expects of them or how to prepare for a career as a truck driver – there should be a non-mandatory, minimum training standard.

By establishing a standard, people will find it easier to have a career, not just obtain a license, he said.

The human resources plan also advocates reducing entry barriers such as insufficient training funding for drivers, and to encourage employers to provide on-the-job training after a license has been earned so the quality of the workforce is maintained.

Among the recommendations in the strategy are: promote a minimum pre-licensing training standard to produce readily employable professional drivers; develop a coherent and consistent driver-training delivery system through a network of approved institutions; identify, promote, and advocate improved driver-training financing mechanisms; recommend improvements to the driver licensing testing standard and testing process; and promote careers to under-represented groups in the trucking industry like women, Aboriginal peoples and young people.

The plan was crafted by the B.C. Trucking Human Resources Planning Committee, a body created and supported by the BCTA along with industry stakeholders, including Teamsters Canada Local 31, with funding provided by Service Canada.

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