Report: Driver Shortage, Labour Demographics Concerning for Atlantic Trucking

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A new report that profiles truck drivers in Atlantic Canada concludes that the professional truck driver shortage will be felt most sharply on the East Coast and, demographically, the capacity crunch is worsening at a faster rate than many other parts of the country.

The report by the Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table that a whopping 68% of truck drivers operating into or in support of the Ports of Saint John and Halifax are over 44 years old compared to a Canadian average of 47%; and nearly half (42%) are 55 and older.

Most drivers (56%) expect to leave the sector in the next 10 years. This includes 68% of those with over 20-years experience.

“Any increase in demand for drivers over the next ten years will coincide with a decrease in the current supply due to retirement, and the need to find replacements. The demographic profile of drivers means that retirements will have a serious impact on the workforce in the next decade,” the report states.

When surveyed drivers said “excessively long” wait times at the ports is what they dislike the most about their jobs.

“Recruiting new drivers has been an increasing challenge, which is a major concern considering the sector’s age profile. The difficulty has abated somewhat in the past year, possibly due to a lack of work in the Alberta oil sands, but long-term challenges remain.”

“With a high percentage of drivers 55 and older, industry will be challenged to replace port

drivers as significant numbers retire over the coming decade. A cooperative effort to ensure the sector is able to attract new drivers and retain existing ones might be vital to the sustainability of a sector that underpins regional prosperity.”

The industry would benefit from discussions between the terminals and employers aimed at improving overall collaboration and efficiencies, the report concluded.

The report also suggests the trucking sector is adapting to a generational change in which new entrants to the occupation place different value on compensation and flexible work hours. Increasingly, employers are offering lifestyle benefits to keep up with new drivers changing needs.

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