Is trucking a new “sexy” profession?

Proud Trucker and His Brand New Semi Truck Tractor

The “Supply Chain” is affecting us all. Demand for goods is on the rise, getting them delivered is essential for our economy. Again the importance of the trucking industry has come under the focus. Trucking driving has suddenly become cool, and drivers rock! With an ongoing “truck driver shortage“, using this new positive attention on trucking may help optimize recruiting campaigns.

The pandemic has continually restructured most everyone in Canada over the past year. Lockdowns and business closures were the norms. Insecurity about household incomes and job futures kept people from spending on most things except essential goods. Those who toiled in the supply chain, especially trucking and front-line retail workers became heroes for us all. As the economy starts to build, new pressures have hit the supply chain. 

Can trucking be seen as a “sexy” job?

Truckers are now being seen as supply chain heroes. As the trucking population ages in Canada, there is a focus to encourage new, younger recruits to ensure the future of the trucking industry. 

Not a day goes by now that we don’t hear about the supply chain and how it is backed up and slowed. Goods and products are in short supply or unavailable. We know trucking is the foundation of the supply chain. Without trucking, society and the economy would grind to a halt. Yes, we have all heard the saying, “if you got it, a trucker brought it“. 

The conundrum is that there is also a short supply of truck drivers, not just in Canada, it is a global phenomenon. News wires around the world are warning that an undersupply of truckers is partly to blame for the global supply chain backups. Driver undersupply is not a new problem. However, the new focus on supply chain problems may help to encourage recruits into trucking. 

In the UK, the government sent in the army to help deliver fuel to gas stations. The truck driver labour shortage strained supply chains and triggered chaotic scenes of panic-buying at the pumps. 

Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point here in Canada. But it echoes problems we have here, COVID-19, on top of other underlying issues of an aging workforce and poor working conditions all add to the undersupply of truckers in Canada. 

Presently the U.S. has a short supply of some 60,000 drivers, a number that is expected o swell to 100,000 by 2023, according to the American Trucking Association. 

In Canada, there are approximately 20,000 truck driver positions vacant this year, a number that could double by 2023, says the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Trucking HR Canada.

What are some of the deterrents to recruits in the trucking industry?

Work-life balance is a key issue, the longer the haul, the harder it is to recruit. A call for younger people and more women into trucking seems like a constant refrain. 

The population of truck drivers continues to age. Currently, 30% are over the age of 56.

Numbers say only 3% of truckers are women. With sexual equality in almost every occupation, this number smacks of the opposite.

Millennials represent only 18% of the truck driver force. 

Diversification in age, ethnicity, and sex will provide the best financial future for trucking companies. According to a study from McKinsey & Company, “companies in the top quartile for both gender and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns, with those in the top quarter for gender diversity only 15% more likely”.

Not only are more women are needed in trucking, but also millennials. Then add to that marginalized, ethnic, and aboriginal peoples of our society. 

Millennials often identify with “work-life balance” as an essential consideration when selecting a career. The lack of flexibility in shift schedules has been identified as a major pain point prompting high turnover rates in the industry. 

Providing “Flex Hours” seems to be the most direct way to handle this issue. Developing smart route scheduling, keeping drivers local, and designing an attainable flex schedule all work to that goal.

According to Fortune, six in 10 millennials, desire to feel “a sense of purpose”. Creating a “mission statement” for your corporation enables everyone to see and judge their contribution up against your “corporate ideal”.  The sense of team becomes key and attainable.

Showcasing your talent, and optimizing social media provide for “new age” acceptability. 75 percent of truckers say they check Facebook daily. 62 percent of millennials turn to social media to find jobs”. 

In a post COVID world, optimizing social media as a marketing tool will increase in importance. Drivers use social media to evaluate new employers and gauge company culture. Trucking companies that use social media reach their recruiting targets easier and with a clearer message. Showcasing your people proudly on social media contributes to the sense of team and gives your organization a “human” face and soul.

Give women in your organization a clear message. Help women progress and succeed in their organization. Educating women on the upside of truck driving should be seen as an industry-wide project. That would start at the top by incorporating more women into management teams. Create an open-door policy for women and all non-traditional trucking cohorts. Have programs designed to engage, incentivize, and further the training of a company’s female drivers. Empower those within your organization. 

Developing an open relationship with Women’s trucking organizations, such as The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada is a great way to establish community involvement, help strengthen the employer brand, and reach new, untapped networks. The door to business in the 21st century is fully inclusive.

Transitioning out of the pandemic enables us all a “rethink”. That starts from the top down. Since the supply chain is seen as key to improving the economy, it is hoped that government at all levels takes a greater interest in the trucking industry. New programs the hiring of non-traditional members of society into trucking would be seen as a positive to all and would encourage future recruitment in those groups.

The opportunity exists for trucking to rethink the road ahead. Social media, mission statements, inclusivity, equality, are just a few areas for management to consider. 

Perhaps post-pandemic trucking has gained a new sense of appeal. Can we be so bold as to say that trucking is now a “sexy” industry? If not that, at least extremely essential. Be proud, truckers rock while they roll!

While a teenager Tony was fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue his love of aviation and began a career began in the airline world during his days in high school and university as he grew up in Toronto. After completing University at Guelph he moved to Ottawa, following a path in urban agriculture and environmental awareness. He shared his insights for over 2 decades as he appeared on TV, and radio, as the "Plant D octor", and operating his own business in horticulture. Later he reentered the transport industry and became involved in the manufacture and marketing of sustainable fuel-saving and safety products for the truck industry. He is director of an African American art collection based in Washington D.C. Today he writes passionately about transportation, sustainability, concerns of our modern-day world, and the intrigue of the human condition.