Is It Time to Flip the Switch in Truck Driving?

Truck driver loving his job and showing okay gesture sign while sitting in his truck cabin. Transportation services.
Truck driver loving his job and showing okay gesture sign while sitting in his truck cabin. Transportation services.

What a year it’s been, we started off with bright futures and goals, hit a pandemic that rocked the world, and transferred our lives from in-person to digital all within a year. What could we do if we planned something? The pandemic has brought out a lot of issues in many industries that should have been addressed long ago. Staffing in healthcare, finances, essential workers, and much more. Many of theses issues never seemed to be solved until the pandemic hit and they came to the forefront. Parking was an issue for trucking before the pandemic and then open washrooms became an issue so action was taken right away. There is now a plan to expand the Service Plazas along the 401 corridor, did the pandemic get that going?

Where do we go from here? How do we keep trucking in the forefront as an essential service and work together as an industry to solve issues for the betterment of our industry. Transportation offers so many people a good livelihood but often gets attacked due to it’s size and the magnitude of damage when something goes wrong. Yet our industry is highly regulated with our drivers being left with major responsibilities, yet little recognition for the training and skills required to get the job done. We have been talking about making truck driving a skilled trade for some time now and the discussion never seems to go anywhere. Now that truck driving has been seen as essential and it is hard to recruit people in these uncertain times people are starting to see the value of a good driver. A driver with experience crossing the border and now willing to even operate in the United States should be paid more than the driver not wanting to go further than the edge of town. Right now they are paid the same. How about driver that is taking extra courses or works in a variety of environments? This has been the problem for years and others including myself have been saying it for a long time. Young people can’t see the career path for a future in trucking, they just see the truck!

In other skilled trades people can see the progression of a career and have a goal they can build on. Become an apprentice, work professionally, and then become a master in the field. This is the same for an electrician, carpenter, mechanic, construction, and much more. Within the field you have a place to go further expanding your expertise, income, and value.

In transportation we have a progression but it is hidden. The career paths are shown as separate career paths and you don’t have to start in the truck. Many go into operations in a trucking company without ever being in a truck or learning to drive one. In trucking we bring them into the truck and tell them to stay there until they retire. We tell them we aren’t paying for anything unforeseen even though the whole driving job is built on variables. They don’t get sick days, we send them into the worst weather and traffic conditions, and challenge them when they tell us about it. I wonder why we have trouble getting people into the industry?

The pandemic has brought out issues that we have seen for years but not really done anything about so let’s use 2021 to rectify those issues. 2020 forced us to look inward, let’s use 2021 to move outwards. I was happy to see a report the other day from Trucking HR Canada in classifying careers. Of course it didn’t mention trucking but if it can be applied to the industry it could go a long way to encouraging young people to get into the trucking industry and make the industry better for those already involved.