In the past five years, truckers in Canada have been in higher demand than ever before. In fact, there is a severe trucker shortage in the country that really needs to be addressed.
There are many reasons why this national crisis is occurring. First, there appears to be a shortage of qualified professional truck drivers because drivers are leaving the industry and searching for jobs that offer better pay, benefits and working conditions.
The other significant issues in retaining truckers are an ageing workforce, a lack of safe and secure truck parking, and struggles to attract both youth and women. Other than these issues, there is also the supply-chain issue caused by the pandemic, affecting everything, including increasing the demand for truckers in Canada.
This article will go in-depth into the increased demand for truckers in Canada. If you are considering trucking as a career, this article will help you understand the industry.
Trucking Statistics in Canada
- About 18,000 truck drivers’ jobs will need to be filled in Canada by March of 2022.
- According to a 2019 report by Statistics Canada based on 2016 Census data, 31 percent of male transport truck drivers were at least 55 years old, while just 22 percent of the total employed population across all occupations was aged 55 and over. The job was also considered among the top occupations for the most employer-reported vacancies in recent years.
- Currently, Canada reports being short around 25,000 truck drivers, while the US says a shortage of around 60,000 drivers.
- The average salary for a truck driver is $23.45 an hour, based on 14,200 jobs listed on Indeed Canada. That works out to about $48,000 a year for a 40-hour week. Four of the top five Canadian cities for hourly wages are in Alberta — Fort McMurray ($32.65), Grande Prairie ($30.60), Edmonton ($26.23) and Calgary ($24.41) — while the fifth is Brampton, Ont. ($23.05).
- In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that the share of women transport truck drivers was just 3.5 percent of 300,000. It’s a share with no magic fix, although some small steps are being taken to rectify it.
Why is there a shortage of truckers in Canada?
Stressful Working Conditions
Many people consider trucking as a career because of the autonomous working environment. People who like to work with little supervision find driving alone or with one other person as a job ideal.
Driving for hours and sitting in a confined space is stressful for most people. Long haul truckers can also be on the road for weeks or even months. You consistently manage driving conditions, including weather, road conditions, and more. In addition, there is a lack of safe truck parking on highways making rest stops challenging to find.
Due to excessive sitting and driving, truckers can suffer from serious health problems. These health issues include back and shoulder pain, arthritis, and more.
Retiring truckers, unable to hire younger people for the job
As mentioned above, most truckers in Canada are 55 years old or above. That means that there will be an expected wave of retirement, causing more vacancies.
Being on the road for extended periods makes it difficult to maintain a healthy family or social life, so it is hard to attract younger truckers. People in their twenties or thirties are looking to start a family or have an active social life. For example, you can be on the road for weeks or months as a long-haul truck driver, leaving little time for your personal life.
Many people above the age of 55 have fewer job prospects and don’t put as much emphasis on work-life balance. Therefore, being on the road for extended periods is acceptable for them. However, as this population of truckers grow older, retirement poses a real pressure to fill their vacancies.
Some Canadian employers have resorted to offering jobs for retired truck drivers to come back into the workforce because they cannot get younger people for the job. As a result, some companies are reaching out to a bigger audience to find potential drivers by recruiting women, ex-military personnel and foreign workers.
Lack of training support and expensive licensing
The trucking industry has minimal access to training dollars. Therefore, there is little support to help Canadians enter the trucking industry or pay for expensive licensing.
Obtaining a commercial license is lengthy and expensive. Licensing can cost upwards of $10,000 to $15,000, depending on where you live. While it varies by province, it typically involves at least one written and one medical exam and vision test. In most of Canada, you can take the test once you turn, although, in certain provinces, you need to have spent some time driving a regular car first.
Training time is a factor as well. The national entry-level training standard is 103.5 hours, not including an extra 8.5 hours for air brake training. On the higher end of that scale, B.C. requires 140 hours of training.
The expensive licensing, lengthy training hours, and exams often drive a lot of truckers away. The upside is that once you obtain your license, you can start working immediately, unlike plumbing or electrical jobs.
The Pandemic causes pressure on the supply chain
If you have tried to purchase a vehicle lately, you will have noticed an inventory shortage. However, the inventory shortage isn’t unique to just the automotive industry - all industries are struggling to fulfill customer orders.
Companies struggling to fulfill customer orders is a small piece of a much more complex issue - A problem that is also increasing demand for truckers in Canada. Let’s break down this issue:
- Customers are spending a lot more on online goods due to the pandemic and purchasing more overall.
- Due to lockdowns, factories are closed, so they cannot fulfill orders.
- Companies are running out of inventory faster and are ordering more to make up for the shortage.
- Once borders open up, factories are sending out as much as possible, which means more ships are needed to carry the inventory.
- More ships enter the shipping ports at once and cannot be processed fast enough.
- More trucks are required to pick up the processed goods and deliver them to the businesses.
- Ships cannot pick up the empty containers returned by the trucks because there are ships that still need processing.
- Empty containers are filling up at the shipment ports, and truckers cannot return empty containers because there is nowhere to store them.
As you can see, trucks play a pivotal role in the supply chain. The truckers pick up containers full of goods, deliver them to businesses, and return the empty containers to the ports. Of course, there are many other moving parts to solve the supply chain issue.
However, countries are moving quickly to solve this problem because import/export is crucial to the economy. The expectation is that the supply chain has to move faster, which ultimately means more truck drivers are needed in Canada.
Truckers are in High Demand in Canada
With no real change in sight, the truck shortage in Canada is sure to get worse before it ever gets better. On the bright side, the high demand for truckers in Canada will only increase.
Companies are working hard to improve pay and working conditions to attract more truckers and compensate for the shortage. For example, some companies offer a $70,000 starting salary for truckers. As an experienced truck driver, you could probably find a job anywhere in Canada and earn between $48,750 and $82,875 per year.
The Government has provisionally lifted the requirement for ten in-demand unskilled jobs in Canada, and truck drivers are one of them! That means employers can hire you quickly because they no longer have to advertise a position locally for at least three months before hiring international drivers. So if you or your family have just immigrated to Canada, trucking is a great opportunity.
In summary, truckers are in high demand in Canada because of the driver shortage and the increased demand due to the pandemic. As we mentioned before, the need for truckers in Canada will only increase, and companies will have to make changes to attract more drivers.