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EDITORIAL: Modern HR Approach Based on Sound Labour Data

By Angela Splinter

 “Modernizing your workforce starts with modernizing your HR approach.”

In today’s labour market, successful truck fleets and logistics companies know that staying abreast of the issues will help them stay ahead of the competition. Follow our “Modernizing Your HR Approach” blog series as we navigate emerging trends and share tips for finding, hiring, and retaining the talent you need.

Concerns about finding and retaining drivers is a constant theme in our conversations with fleet managers, to the point where carriers are parking trucks and turning away business.

We also know that the industry’s HR challenges run deeper than the driver pool. Trucking and logistics companies are telling us how difficult it can be to compete with other industries for IT workers, administrative personnel, and more.

Clearly, attracting and retaining all types of workers is a problem that we need to understand and solve.

We’re on it.

Trucking HR Canada is currently compiling labour market data that will put this industry’s hiring, training, and retention issues in perspective, help identify key challenges, and develop tools and mechanisms to effectively address them.

Initial findings reveal some important information about the driver shortage in Canada’s trucking industry. Here is what the data is telling us:

There are more drivers today—and more openings

The number of transport truck drivers employed in the Canadian economy has increased by almost 86,000 workers since 1996. That’s a whopping 37 percent gain, with more than 317,000 truckers employed in 2018.

However, trucking and logistics has one of the highest vacancy rates at 6.6%. We currently have more than 20,000 unfilled truck driver positions in Canada, more than double the number of vacant driver positions we had in 2016.

Unemployment among truck drivers is 34 percent lower than the average in the Canadian workforce. In fact, between 2016 and 2018, the unemployment rate for Canadian truck drivers decreased from 6.6 percent to 3.8 percent.

Demographic changes are a threat and an opportunity

When you consider that 60 percent of truck drivers in Canada are over the age of 45, and half of those workers will be eligible to retire in the next three to five years, it’s no wonder so many employers are unable find the experienced drivers they need to fill over 20,000 vacant positions.

Let’s not forgot about millennials. Less than 18 percent of truck drivers in Canada are from the millennial generation—people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s—compared to 34 percent in the overall workforce.

And by now we all should know these stats on women: according to Statistics Canada, 97% of truck drivers are male, yet women make up close to 50% of the workforce.

Troubling data to say the least.

We need better data

More troubling is that the federal government and other public sources often produce data that tell only part of the story.

For example, Statistics Canada uses outdated definitions for the training, skills, and experience required to work in the trucking industry today. The compensation data is too broadly captured for it to mean anything. And the data does little to help clarify what changes the industry can expect in the future.

Other details are missing, too.

For example, when Statistics Canada compiles data on job postings, it ignores important information like the demand for specialized skills or licenses, like transporting dangerous goods; the number of short-haul versus long-haul jobs; how many vacancies are in private fleets compared to for-hire; and the list goes on.

Talk to us. We’re listening

To put this industry’s hiring and retention concerns into proper perspective, we need to talk to fleets directly. We’re here to listen.

Trucking HR Canada, in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada, will be reaching out to you to find out more. We want to hear from employers directly. It may take some of your time, but it is this primary data, combined with the statistical data, that will help us all better understand our HR problems.

This, in turn, will enable us to better articulate our needs to government, career seekers, and educational institutions.

Stay tuned, and we hope to have industry participation in this important work.

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