TORONTO, Ont. — With the devastating recession not quite a distant memory, trucking companies are cautiously beginning to turn their attention back to hiring drivers.
Indeed, some fleets are already reporting they’re having trouble finding quality drivers, which brings back memories of the early 2000s when competition for drivers was fierce and a lack of quality drivers was one of the most pressing issues facing the trucking industry.
As the economy rebounds, a new group in Ontario is hoping to offer a partial solution, by training women for careers as drivers in hopes the industry will turn to this oft-overlooked pool as a partial solution to the looming driver shortage.
Jane Wilson, director of women services with MicroSkills, offers a variety of reasons why companies should consider hiring female drivers.
“I think women are interested,” she said. “Women are well-prepared. Women, from what I understand, have the potential to be, and many are, excellent drivers. From what I hear, women are very excellent students as well and they really do pick up important aspects of driver training. I understand that women as well, because of their backgrounds in other sectors, possess experience and skills that can create value for their employers, including customer service, versatility and flexibility. I’ve also heard that women take excellent care of their vehicles and are very detail-oriented.”
So they make good hires, but the question remains, why would women want a career in the male-dominated transportation industry? Wilson said candidates are pre-screened to ensure they know what they’re getting into and are aware of the challenges they’ll face in the industry. That way, employers can rest assured any graduates of the Women in Transportation program are likely to stick around.
The program has churned out one group of graduates so far, who are now enjoying careers, mostly as D/Z-licensed drivers. The program has a number of partner employers, so-called ’employment specialists’ who are committed to helping graduates find employment after they graduate. Employers include companies such as Purloator and the Toronto Transit Commission. However, Wilson is hopeful some candidates will opt to upgrade to an A/Z and find employment in the trucking industry.
“The majority are trained with the D/Z, but we are also offering the opportunity for those who are interested and who are a good fit with the lifestyle, to move ahead with an A/Z licence,” Wilson said.
Ladies entering the Women in Transportation program come from all walks of life. Some are immigrants with driving experience in other countries. Others are looking for a second career and others still are women looking to enter the workforce for the first time.
Before they’re accepted, they must demonstrate driving proficiency. Humber College provides the pre-screening evaluations.
Humber also helped develop the training curriculum. Once accepted into the 20-week program, the women will receive an overview of the sector, acquire training in workplace health and safety, CPR and customer service. They’ll also receive plenty of behind-the-wheel training.
The end result is a well-trained driver who’s enthusiastic about embarking on a career in transportation, Wilson said. For information about the program or to provide employment opportunities to graduates, contact Chris Faulk at 416-247-7181, ext. 2277. You can also find more information online at www.microskills.ca and watch for an interview with Wilson on an upcoming episode of our WebTV show Transportation Matters, airing weekly on Trucknews.com.
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