It is a well documented and researched fact that there has been an ongoing driver shortage in the transportation world. Currently there are approximately 20,000 vacant truck driver positions vacant in Canada, which is nearly double the number from 2016. No one disagrees there is an issue, but where everyone diverges is the why and how to fix it. Whether looking for a driver to work direct for a shipper or to work for a larger for-hire carrier, the reasons and solutions can apply to both.
A shortage of drivers is due to the fact there are few women and young people in the role. Currently the average age of a driver in Canada is 55 years old, and only 15 per cent of drivers are under the age of 30. The largest and most diverse workforce in the market is not being engaged for these positions. It is estimated that only three per cent of truck drivers in Canada are women, regardless of women making up 48 per cent of the workforce. A study done by Abacus on millennial workers found that 16 per cent of men and seven per cent of women would strongly consider a career in trucking, while 29 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women would not even consider it. The big question is why are these people not interested in this position.
While some people think it’s purely a perception issue, others suggest a systemic issue with how the transportation industry operates. Perhaps the answer is both.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting new results is how the transportation industry has been trying to attract new and younger candidates. Clearly, this approach is not working. When recruiting for younger more diverse talent, it is important to outline a company’s intentions and purpose. Millennials specifically need to feel their career makes a difference and they crave specific feedback for growth. These things are not typically communicated by trucking companies or others that hire for truck driver positions. Ensuring that the role of truck driver has a positive brand image needs to be an industry effort.
This brings us to the systemic issues in the transportation industry. The industry has a laundry list of issues and some of them contribute to turn-over and lack of interest in the industry as a career path. Driver pay is not regulated and therefore fluctuates heavily based on demand and drivers either need to run further from home or make less money. Also, there are policies at some shippers and receivers that negatively impact drivers -- everything from excessive fines to wait-times that border insane. Sadly, truck drivers don’t get the respect they deserve. This contributes to drivers leaving the role and younger people not being interested.
Companies looking for people to fill these roles are competing with more attractive and better branded industries. Unless there are major changes to policy and how truck driving is sold to the next generation, shortages will continue to increase along with price and service failures.
How will your company adapt?