CTA BRTF Chair Talks Driver Shortage with World Counterparts

Doug Sutherland, Chair of CTA’s BRTF and President of the Sutherland Group, this week gave a presentation on Canada’s driver shortage to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which is based in Geneva and active in over 100 countries promoting road-based trade.

Sutherland joined a panel of three presenters including Bob Costello, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, American Trucking Associations (ATA) and José Refugio Muñoz, Executive Vice President, La Cámara Nacional del Autotransporte de Carga (CANACAR), with the session moderated by Martin Rojas, Senior Advisor for the Americas at IRU.

The IRU has been compiling data globally from road transport industry members to better understand the scope the driver shortage challenge and the root of its cause. During the COVID Pandemic, the problem was exacerbated by limits on social distancing and access to facilities, various health requirements, plus a precipitous drop followed by a spike in demand for goods, which has added pressure to beleaguered supply chains and transportation modes.

Doug Sutherland

According to IRU, the world is short 2.6 billion drivers.  “It is a global issue,” IRU business analyst Natalia Corchado said at the June 27 webinar.

Fewer than 3% of the truck drivers are women, adds IRU, and fewer than 7% of the world’s truck drivers are under 25.

In recent months, recruiting potential applicants to become commercial drivers has become a public and private sector imperative to keep supply chains running and factories and retail outlets stocked. The North American Transportation Forum (NATF) members CTA, ATA and CANACAR have long highlighted initiatives and potential solutions to address this issue.

This session was timely, as recent labour force data from Trucking HR Canada confirmed CTA’s longstanding position that things are getting worse in Canada and the driver shortage threatens Canada’s economic recovery and ability to restore stability to the supply chain.

Canadian Labour force data has shown the number of truck driver vacancies surged for the third straight quarter to 25,560 between January and March of 2022 – a rise of 15.4% over the previous quarter when just under 23,000 vacancies were reported, and a whopping 73% year-over-year increase since Q1 of 2021.

Recent reports from the IRU also show that this trend is not unique to Canada, rather something that is happening globally. For Canada’s part, Sutherland highlighted The Alliance’s focus on our industry image and social media campaign, which is targeted to primarily Millennials and Gen Z as they embark on new career paths. Through multimedia, the campaign seeks to dispel myths while highlighting opportunities and innovations throughout the industry and has attracted well over 20 million views since launching in November 2021. Sutherland also highlighted several CTA efforts to bolster training support for new entrants, and to expand the industry’s access to immigration channels for known employers.

Through the CTA BRTF and other channels, the Canadian Trucking Alliance will continue to work with governments and organisations such as the IRU to promote the Canadian trucking industry, share best practices, and to attract new workers to our sector.

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