Research IDs Ways to Engage Youth in Trucking Careers

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Posted on May 15th 2013 6:49 PM

(May 15, 2013) — New research offers clear insight into the way youth view Canada’s trucking industry, and identifies the features of successful programs which could attract the industry’s next generation of employees, Trucking HR Canada has announced.

Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers: Attracting Canada’s Youth to Opportunities in Trucking was based on the results of extensive focus groups, site visits, online surveys and interviews with high school students and educators alike. Its release follows a recent Conference Board of Canada report which projects a shortage of between 25,000 and 33,000 drivers by 2020, due in part to an aging workforce that is approaching retirement.

“The researchers behind Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers found that Canada’s youth have a relatively positive view of the trucking industry, and are attracted by many of the benefits offered by industry careers,” says Tamara Miller, Trucking HR Canada’s director – programs and services. “This data can be used to refine messages which target youth. A related analysis of school-to-work programs can also be used to guide initiatives that will build bridges between the school system and careers in trucking.”

Key recommendations in the report call for:

•    marketing materials and branding elements which specifically target youth.
•    identifying or creating entry-level career paths into driving occupations. “Appropriate jobs for youth aged 19 to 25 must be made available,” researchers concluded. “Introduce them to driving occupations, and start to build their relevant skills as early as possible.”
•    new industry-education partnerships. “Schools with existing vocational programs already have an infrastructure in place, interested student populations, and experienced educators and liaison staff,” researchers said.
•    using up-to-date National Occupational Standards, reviewing the opportunity for high-schools and colleges to develop national driving-related curriculum. One potential opportunity involves Ontario’s Specialist High Skills Major Program.

Based on the findings, Trucking HR Canada is pursuing potential national initiatives that will effectively attract youth to careers in trucking.

While today’s youth are concerned about the prospect of long periods away from home, long hours, working conditions and perceived safety risks in the trucking industry, they are interested in the promise of travel, independence, challenging work, and steady employment opportunities, researchers found. Educators admitted to being concerned about the extended time from home and perceived safety risks but they also recognized that the industry has an ongoing need for labour.

There are barriers to overcome. Today’s youth are less passionate about cars and driving than previous generations, and less likely to have their driver’s licence. Many youth are expected to be relatively inexperienced drivers into their early 20s. Restrictions relating to the minimum driving age require entry-level careers that still appeal to the search for autonomy, independence, and challenging work for those between the ages of 19 and 25, researchers concluded.

Participating educators also cited concerns about low pay within the industry, adding support to a key recommendation by the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage in Trucking, which stated that the industry’s compensation packages need to be competitive with – or better than – alternative employment options.

Meanwhile, Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers offers case studies that explore already-successful school-to-work programs such as the Bramalea Secondary School Truck and Coach Program, Manitoba’s Entry Level Professional Truck Driver Training Program, and SAIT Polytechnic’s School of Transportation. Other studied programs serve industries as diverse as aerospace and construction.

For example, the Bramalea Secondary School program — offered in partnership with Centennial College and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) — has students completing their secondary school diplomas while taking courses which focus on various aspects of the transportation industry. Classes take place in a $2-million facility with a pair of drive-through tractor-trailer bays, classroom labs and an open lab work area. Hands-on learning at the facility is strengthened through coop programs, job shadowing, field trips and excursions, all under the guidance of a vice-principal who once operated a trucking company.

For a complete copy of Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Drivers: Attracting Canada’s Youth to Opportunities in Trucking, visit the Trucking HR Canada online store

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