BCTA calls for better balance between freight and labor

LANGLEY, B.C. — More than two-thirds of trucking companies responding to a recent survey in B.C. expect to hire or contract an average of five full-time Class 1 drivers during the next year.

According to the survey however, carriers are expecting to have a difficult time finding the trained, experienced professional drivers they need.

“Freight isn’t being left behind – yet,” says Paul Landry, B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) president and CEO. “But if we don’t take proactive measures today, we may pay the price a few years down the road. Trucking has its own share of baby boomers, and they’re ready to retire.”

The Employer Survey Project was conducted in February 2008 and was sponsored by the B.C. Trucking Human Resources Planning Committee, funded by Service Canada and conducted by Ference Weicker & Company.

The survey gathered responses from 413 B.C. transportation companies to questions designed to help quantify the labor shortage and understand what the industry needs to do to appeal to new entrants.

Attracting new people to the industry is critical, since right now the most qualified candidates are drivers from other companies, not job-ready graduates from training programs, says the BCTA.

The survey results confirm the focus of BCTA and the committee on establishing a professional driver training standard is on par with what industry employers need.

The committee has applied to the B.C. Industry Training Authority (ITA) to pilot test a training standard in fall 2008. If the standard receives approval, this will set the ball rolling for programs that will turn out graduates with eight weeks of classroom and practical training and an additional four weeks of on-the-job training after licensing. Trainees would then achieve certification from ITA only after mastery of basic skills and additional testing.

According to Landry, “the Employer Survey Project provides us with direct commentary from employers. Professional drivers today need a wide variety of skills before they enter the job market – just getting a Class 1 licence is not enough. Driving is a skilled profession, and an established training standard will reflect that.”

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