Report sounds alarm over truck driver shortage as job vacancies rise

MONTREAL — Canada’s truck driver shortage has reached new heights, with job vacancies more than doubling since 2016, a new report says.

A shortage of more than 20,000 drivers has hampered truck company expansions and hurt sales, costing nearly $3.1 billion in lost revenues in 2018, according to trade group Trucking HR Canada.

Developed in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada, the report found that job vacancy in the industry hit 6.8 per cent in 2019, more than double the Canadian average and the highest rate outside of crop production.

An aging workforce, lack of female drivers and high turnover account for the growing problem, conference board economist Kristelle Audet said.

“The demand has been rising, but it’s really because of the supply contracting,” Audet said.

Up to 60 per cent of the sector is older than 45 compared with 45 per cent of the Canadian workforce, she said.

While more women are entering the 18-wheeler workforce, female big-riggers still account for just 3.5 per cent of drivers.

Turnover is high across the industry, but long-haul driving in particular faces a 9.4 per cent job vacancy rate, the report found.

The industry is revving up efforts to attract and retain younger employees and women.

Social media campaigns stress more flexible schedules and better work-life balance, and summits with names like Millennials Have Drive zero in on target demographics to head off a forecasted 25 per cent rise in job vacancies over the next four years.

“We need to get the message out that trucking is changing,” Trucking HR Canada chief executive Angela Splinter said.

“We are greener than you think. We are innovating,” she said. “But we know that we need to do a better job on that. Those perceptual issue remain a barrier for us.”

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