The trucking industry has always been the lifeblood of Canada’s economy.  The flow of goods and materials across the country keeps businesses running and helps to ensure that Canadians have the supplies they need. However, even this pillar of the Canadian economy is not immune to change. One of the most pressing issues currently facing the trucking industry is a shortage of drivers.

By the end of 2021, the industry had already logged a shortage of as many as 23,000 drivers. Just last month, industry representatives met with federal officials to share an even more alarming number—a projected shortage of up to 55,000 drivers by the end of 2023.

Needless to say, the lack of drivers is having a ripple effect throughout the trucking industry and it’s impacting businesses and consumers alike. To fully understand the extent of the driver shortage and how it’s affecting the trucking industry—keep on reading. 

How the Shortage Happened

At the heart of this issue are several complex factors that vary across different regions and companies. In some cases, the driver shortage is made worse by an aging workforce and a lack of qualified young people to take their place. In others, it’s simply a matter of too much demand and not enough drivers to meet it.

Just how severe is the shortage? Data gleaned from Canada’s Labour Market Information indicates the following:

  • There are nearly 23,000 vacant truck driver positions in Canada.
  • 61% of employers report having difficulty filling driver positions.
  • 7.4% of all truck driver jobs are vacant.

The Impact of Truck Driver Shortage On Businesses

The truck driver shortage has led to a number of challenges for businesses, particularly those that rely heavily on the trucking industry to move their goods and supplies.

Here are a few ways in which the driver shortage has impacted businesses:

Shipping Delays & Major Disruption Of The Supply Chain

One of the most immediate impacts of the driver shortage has been shipping delays. With fewer drivers on the road, there are simply not enough trucks to move all the goods that need to be shipped. This has led to delays in receiving supplies, which can impact businesses of all sizes.

In some cases, the delays have been so severe that they have disrupted the entire supply chain. This is particularly true for businesses that rely on Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory, which is a system where goods are only produced or shipped when they are needed.

While the trucking industry has been able to maintain a high level of service, for the most part, the driver shortage has led to some businesses having to make changes to their operations.

Decreased Efficiency

Despite its ubiquity in the Canadian economy, the trucking industry is a highly competitive one. Carriers are always looking for ways to cut costs and offer the most competitive rates. The driver shortage has made this difficult because, with fewer drivers on the road, trucks are often forced to travel long distances to pick up and deliver their loads. This not only leads to increased fuel costs but also puts additional wear and tear on the trucks.

All of these factors have a direct impact on businesses and their bottom line. In some cases, the increased costs associated with the driver shortage are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. In others, businesses are forced to absorb the costs, which can lead to decreased profits.

Are There Any Solutions Available For The Truck Driver Shortage?

Without a doubt, the truck driver shortage is a complex problem that will require a multi-faceted solution. Here are a few ideas and ongoing solutions that can help mitigate the truck driver shortage:

An Amplified Recruitment Campaign

One of the most obvious solutions to the truck driver shortage, of course, is to simply recruit more drivers. However, this is easier said than done. This is why the Trucking Alliance of Canada is asking for federal support to help attract more candidates. They believe that a well-funded recruitment campaign would help to address the driver shortage and allow the industry to continue to thrive.

As a response, the Alberta government has undertaken an initiative called the Driving Back to Work Grant Program (DBTW). With this, unemployed Albertans can have an opportunity to start careers as commercial truck drivers through access to funding to take the Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program to earn a Class 1 driver’s license.

Enticing More Women To Join The Trucking Industry

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While male truck drivers still make up the vast majority of the workforce, there has been a slight increase in the number of women joining the industry in recent years. Data from Trucking HR Canada shows that approximately 97,000 women work in Canada’s trucking and logistics industry. However, most of them work in either shipping and receiving, or in administration. Data shows that only 10% work as commercial truck drivers and less than 5% are in a management or supervisor position

To help entice more women to make their mark in the trucking industry, Alberta’s government announced they were investing $3 million to help support women who are seeking job opportunities in the transportation sector. As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, the province seeks to help reduce labor shortages in the commercial trucking industry with skills training and employment grants

“Women are an essential part of Alberta’s workforce and their accomplishments contribute to our success. I am very pleased this Budget 2022 grant will open doors to a career many thought was not achievable. Alberta needs trailblazers.” said Alberta’s Minister of Transportation — Rajan Sawhney, back in March.

Through a combination of supporting individual Class 1 driver’s license training, program development tailored to women, and promoting new career choices in transportation, the $3-million grant will provide women with new skills to achieve success in the industry.

“We applaud the Government of Alberta and its ongoing commitment to women and Women Building Futures. Providing opportunities for women to become professional commercial truck drivers is turning economic security from a dream into a reality for many women and will help our province prosper,” added Carol Moen, president and CEO of Women Building Futures.

Where Does The Trucking Industry Go From Here?

It’s evident that the truck driver shortage has a significant impact on the trucking industry. However, with ongoing initiatives and solutions in place, there is hope that the industry will be able to weather this storm. What’s important now is for everyone in the industry to work together to find the best way forward. Only then can the trucking industry continue to thrive in spite of the challenges it currently faces.

With the government backing programs to help with the driver shortage, there might just be hope for Canada’s economy to get back on track. Do you want to be a part of the solution? Contact Gennaro Transport Training. We offer a wide range of courses that will give you the skills and experience you need to succeed in the trucking industry. Give us a call today to learn more about our program and how we can help you get started in your new career.

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