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Trucking industry needs to act now on driver shortage, says MTA president Blagden

We need to see the big picture and act now: Blagden

WINNIPEG, Man. — The province’s trucking industry is heading towards a “crisis in the very near future” as a result of the shortage of new people entering the industry, according to Norman Blagden, president of the Manitoba Trucking Association.

The Manitoba trucking industry is expected to be short about 1,000 drivers within seven years, Blagden stated in his president’s report, presented at the MTA’s Annual General Meeting.

Blagden said a number of factors, most notably lifestyle issues, is keeping young people from entering the industry as drivers. Some of these factors include the inability to predict pay from one week to the next and the guesswork involved in determining home time.

“Until changes are made, we will not be able to attract new drivers in the numbers we need,” Blagden said. “We cannot take the approach of waiting to figure it out when the time comes…We need to see the big picture and act now.”

A Conference Board of Canada study released last month forecasts the Canadian trucking industry could be short 25,000 to 33,000 drivers by 2020. It also pointed out that the average age of the truck driver has increased from 40 years in 1996 to over 44 years in 2006 (the last year for which Census information is available.). Over 20% of the driver population was over 54. Yet only 12% are under the age of 30.

Blagden noted the MTA has been very active over the past year in trying to address the driver shortage issue. One of its most significant undertakings has been trying to create a trucking industry sector council. The council’s goals would be increased industry investment in skills development to promote a quality workforce; a learning system that is informed of, and more responsive to, the needs of the industry; and enhanced ability for the industry in recruiting and retaining its workers.

MTA has also been working on having “commerial driver” recognized as a designated occupation in Manitoba. An application has been sent to Apprencticeship Manitoba for review.

“The anticipated result of this is that, in order for an individual to be recognized as a professional driver, they will have to meet certain minimum training standards. The skills and expertise possessed by our driving population cannot be underestimated…Professional driver is a skilled trade and it is time that the skills and abilities of our commercial drivers are given the respect they deserve,” Blagden stated in his report.

The MTA has also focused on relationship building, reaching out to different sources of employees. Its Careers Committee has presented to a variety of organizations, including employment agencies, the military and secondary and post secondary institutions.

The MTA is also working on an “English at Work” program, which is designed to improve the English language skills of the province’s drivers.

“This program will not only improve the quality of life of those in the program but it will also improve the overall safety of our industry,” Blagden commented.

One positive development Blagden pointed to was the upswing in enrolment in the Professional Truck Driver Training Program, sponsored by Manitoba Public Insurance. In 2012, almost 100 new participants joined the apprenticeship-like program for professional drivers, which provides training in an accredited driver training school as well as on-the-job experience.

MTA’s emphasis on the driver shortage seems to have caught the ear of Ottawa. Steven Fletcher, minister of state for transport, who spoke at MTA’s Annual General Meeting, encouraged motor carrier executives to continue the dialogue on the driver shortage.

“If not addressed it could put a break not only on your industry but also on the entire eonomy,” Fletcher said, pointing out that about 90% of all consumer goods move by truck.

The transportation and warehousing industry employs 5.7% of Manitoba’s labour force, and makes up 6 to 7% of the provincial GDP

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6 Comments » for Trucking industry needs to act now on driver shortage, says MTA president Blagden
  1. thinkslikeapeasant says:

    I drove over 2 million km, vans flats b-trains. Built 3 companies. Got crushed in ’08. The industry is the single most vile occupation out there. There isn’t a word uttered in the trucking racket that isn’t a lie, especially when it comes to money. To voluntarily put ones self in a position of subjugation and social repugnance for 3 dollars an hour (yeah thats probably a little high, I know)is retarded. Here’s a word of advice for all those young wanna be Billy Big Riggers, run, run as fast as you can from this horrible industry cause it will only suck your soul out of you, ruin your health, and then spit you out like a piece of turd.

  2. Dom Di Stroia says:

    “The transportation and warehousing industry employs 5.7% of Manitoba

  3. Jake Goertzen says:

    Mr. Norm Blagden works for the same trucking company where I spent ten prime years of my life.
    With regard to requests for paid waiting time, I was told “we don’t pay for that”.
    When I requested extra pay for extra work at a customer’s dock I was told “we pay a flat rate regardless of the time or work involved”.
    When I requested a different load assignment than what was being offered I was told “that’s all we have for you, take it or go on the waiting list”.

    Granted some of the solutions to this driver shortage problem are somewhat complex, the fundamentals are very simple!

  4. William McKechnie says:

    In 2001 I was making .36/mile. Now in 2013 I make .40/mile. That’s an 11% increase in 11 years!! NO BENEFITS!! Who else but truckers would put up with this paltry raise that doesn’t even come close to inflation? Our PROFESSION, yes, 99% of us are professionals,is the most regulated and under appreciated
    profession there is. If I could go back 40 years and change my choices, I’d be a greedy civil servant right now!

  5. tir express montreal says:

    I drove on 3 continents by now and I got time left. wherever you turn, you can hear the same lie : driver shortage. It’s pay shortage. I’m O/O now and my opinion is : before to stop the speculation, “the easy money storm” created by the big freight brokerage companies, it will not be better. The state, the truck owners big or small fleets and all other people involved or doing buisiness with trucking industry will lose tons of money in favor of this ” robbery with licence granted”. the problem these so called “freight brokers” are giving nothing in return to the industry or the even to the society. they are a black hole where a lot of money are dissapearing. I’ve seen loads of 4 dollars/mile at the shipper and the truck was paid 1,60/mile… too many times. Besides that, the speculation over the fuel stocks is agravating this problem. the money are there but not for productive work force.

  6. Ketan says:

    Maybe trucking stuff is an outdated concept.
    Here is an example: wheat grown in the prairies is shipped to Seattle (Washington, USA), processed into pancake mix and sold at a wholesale store in Newfoundland!
    Why not just haul wheat to Newfoundland directly by railroad and mill it there & pack it into pancake mix, cookie dough, batter etc.
    This also happens with bottled water (which is 95% water 5% by weight plastic) hauled across the continent several times before reaching the end user.
    If we imported all our TV’s, fridges, laundry machines packed flat & assembled in Canada, as near point of use as possible, we’d reduce need for trucks, truckers, pollution, fuel, wars, traffic congestion……..& create endless opportunities in assembly and manufacturing occupations – especially in small towns!
    Unfortunately, the railroads are part of the problem too – they are too focused on profits & the bottom line while occupying prime real estate across Canada & not paying for anything…if all these indirect subsidies given by the Governments to the railroad systems were removed, they would not be a sustainable mode of transport!

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