Your Empty Driver’s Positions and the Other Half of the Labour Force

Since I started working with trucking companies; such as providing staff to them, becoming a board of director of the TMTA Waterloo region (Transportation Maintenance and Technology Association) and working in a family business that serves the trucking industry, I have noticed something strange… If you look around, you will see a statistic in every other article about the trucking industry; women make up just 3% of truck drivers. The whole industry is completely underrepresented by women. It’s not just a little bit lopsided by the male/female ratio, it’s almost wholly one-sided. I have seen this first hand and I don’t know why more women don’t take advantage of these opportunities.

After meeting with Katie Erb, who is following in the footsteps of her grandfather and working in the family business, I really started wondering why more women weren’t in the industry.

Here are some numbers to think about; Women make up 48% of the Canadian labour force yet:

  • 3% of truck drivers, mechanics, and technicians
  • 11% of managers
  • 13% of parts technicians
  • 18% of dispatchers
  • 25% of freight claims/safety and loss prevention specialists

Now, here’s the next thing to think about, by 2024, the trucking industry is looking at a driver shortage to the tune of 48,000 empty positions. That’s right, there are that many jobs sitting open for people to take. Women need to know these jobs exist and they have options.

The average wage for truck drivers in Canada is $22.64 an hour. All you need is your license. If driving isn’t your thing, then there are all the other jobs listed that need people with a range of skills. If you can run the floor at your local restaurant, hustling in heels and tracking tables, you can run a shop floor.

Here’s the thing, a great technician doesn’t necessarily make a great foreman. Managing people is a completely different skillset and requires communication skills that a person holding a wrench doesn’t always have. You can stay at the burger palace or you can kick butt in a shop. Only, running the shop floor pays more.

I spend a lot of my day on my phone talking to clients. It’s part of my job I enjoy because I get to know people, and, often, make their day better by providing a solution to their problem. Maybe you, or someone you know, is like that, too. You have these awesome phone skills that are being wasted taking calls from grumpy people about their cable bill? Then get out of the call centre and start running the dispatch for the drivers. The hours are better and so are the benefits.

I really could go on finding reasons to move into the other jobs I mentioned at the top of the page, but I think you get the picture. Women already have a lot of the skills to excel in these empty jobs. The higher paying jobs are there and you have the skills to do them. What are you waiting for?

Besides, the next woman you hire might just be the future president of your company. I just want to take a moment and give a shout out to Brenda Alderson who is the new President of the TMTA. Alderson is the first woman president of any TMTA chapter and is making history by changing the trucking demographic.

What about the hours away from home?

One of the biggest complaints of the trucking industry is the work/life balance. It requires many long hours on the road, away from home and family. In fact, this is one of the main reasons drivers leave the industry for other jobs.

Employers and industry are commissioning studies to see how the costs of losing employees to other jobs are affecting the bottom line. It’s bad. Combine the shortage of drivers with the people leaving for jobs that are closer to home, and it becomes pretty obvious that they are losing a lot of money.

The push for better working conditions is too great and reaching its critical mass. Here’s the thing, the way the freight industry operates has to change. As much as there is resistance to change and doing things differently, there isn’t much choice. Companies are even starting to modify trucks so that they can accommodate smaller statures of many women and new automatic transmissions are making driving easier for everyone. Companies are now offering shorter routes and new laws are preventing drivers from having the long hours they used to.

And it’s not like you would be alone in this diversification. The companies have realized that they need women there to help them survive. Trucking HR Canada has mentoring toolbox with the purpose of “engaging women and employers in Canada’s trucking industry to gain experience with mentorship that will support women in a range of occupations across the country”.

If you are wondering where to start, check out the training Conestoga College, an affiliate of the TMTA, is offering women. They are are doing what it takes to get women into the skilled trades, including offering free pre-apprenticeship and “gender-specific programming”. Consider creating a partnership with your local college, and help shape the future with your expertise and experience.

Do you want to be part of the change that is going to define trucking for the next generation? It’s an exciting time to see how women can drive the way the industry is going to compensate its employees.

Think about it, talk about it and let’s make it happen!

-Paul Bergsma
#Honest #Reliable #Fun