B.C. braces for potential driver shortage

LANGLEY, B.C. — The B.C. Trucking Association is using 2010 as a year to strategically prepare for an anticipated driver shortage in the trucking industry.

Research by BCTA and a variety of government departments had predicted labour shortages prior to the economy’s tailspin in 2008 and 2009, and the association expects employers to experience hiring challenges again as the economy recovers.

According to BCTA President and CEO Paul Landry, the global economic slowdown had a little silver lining for trucking because it took some of the pressure off employers looking for qualified drivers.

“Our industry is struggling with a demographic problem, many drivers are at or near the age of retirement, but we don’t have enough people lined up to replace them,” he says. “In contrast to other sectors, only 9 percent of our workers are under the age of 30. That figure doubles for others at 18 percent.”

To help industry counter this challenge, BCTA is working with funding partners to deliver Human Resources (HR) Essentials Workshops for small to medium-sized trucking companies. The workshops teach employers how to attract qualified candidates, screen applicants and assess their skills, and motivate qualified employees, particularly drivers, to stay with their current employer.

“Most small businesses have a lot of HR responsibilities but no HR expertise. These interactive workshops provide take-away reference material and forms that companies can modify for their own use,” says Landry. “Finding and keeping good employees is critical when there is a high demand and low supply for qualified workers.”

Another project that BCTA has heavily invested in is the BC Professional Truck Driver Training Program.

“Demand for new drivers hasn’t been as high in the last couple of years, but we know that it’s just a matter of time – perhaps only months – before trucking companies will again be scouring B.C. for qualified and skilled professional drivers,” says Landry.

“Unlike the majority of driver training options, this program will train people for a career rather than simply to obtain a licence. Driving is an important skill, but it’s only one of a large variety that professional drivers must use every day,” he adds.

On April 12, the BCTA will begin delivery of 15 HR Essentials Workshops across the province. Pilot delivery of the Professional Driver Training Program is scheduled to begin on April 19.

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