New blood for Canadian trucking

New blood for Canadian trucking

Canada’s trucking industry faces a serious shortage of qualified drivers.

Trucking desperately needs new blood because it’s facing a serious shortage of qualified drivers that’s only set to get worse, according to CBC Canada.

As of 2018, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) estimates that shortage could be as high as 22,000 vacant truck driver positions across the country. Those vacancies are expected to swell to 34,000 by 2024, thanks to an inability to recruit enough young people or women to replace aging drivers.

“It’s been described as a demographic tsunami (…) Trucking has one of the oldest workforces in the entire economy and, at the same time, there is a declining share of young people willing to get into the industry,” said Jon Blackham, the OTA’s director of policy and public affairs.

Gus Rahim, the president of the Ontario Truck Driving School, based in London, Ontario, believes the reason trucking has problems attracting young blood is partly due to the age restrictions in the United States. There, drivers must be at least 21 to haul cargo across state lines. As a precaution, most American shippers want their drivers to be at least 23. In Canada, where drivers only have to be 18 under the law, that’s a problem. Most truckers who starting their careers cut their teeth on long-haul jobs where crossing U.S. border is common. It means any Canadian who’s 18 has to wait at least three years to work in the United States. Rahim said the wait is too long for most.

The other barrier, according to Rahim is cost. Most young people work minimum wage jobs and the $8,000 tuition cost is hard to come by. In Ontario, where more than half of Canada’s trucking companies are based, prospective students can’t apply for loans under the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to help pay their tuition, something Rahim wants to see the provincial government change.

The other problem facing trucking is the recruitment of women. The Ontario Trucking Association said historically, women have made up only three per cent of all truck drivers. More recent estimates put that figure anywhere from five to seven per cent thanks to OTA networking events aimed at recruiting women and raising their profile within the industry.

To follow up on the story click here for the full CBC Canada article.


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