Canada is not alone in its struggles to fill truck driving jobs.
While Trucking HR Canada says there were almost 24,000 unfilled driving jobs in Canada in the second quarter of 2023, an International Road Transport Union (IRU) study identified more than 3 million unfilled driving jobs across 36 other countries – about 7% of such positions. And IRU expects the unfilled jobs to double by 2028.
Only 12% of the existing drivers are younger than 25, and just 6% are women.
The IRU findings were based on a survey of 4,700 trucking companies in the Americas, Europe and Asia, between February and April.
“This has been an ongoing issue that the industry faces and something that becomes worse as [the] need for our industry grows,” Craig Faucette, chief program officer at Trucking HR Canada, told TruckNews.com.
Canadian employers struggle to find enough drivers, including youth and women, to keep up with retirements and the increased demand for trucking services, Faucette said.
The situation is similar in the U.S. and Europe, where an aging population affects the pool of available workers. It’s why IRU says access to qualified drivers in other countries should be facilitated, allowing countries with a surplus of professional drivers to help address gaps.
“The consequences of such a shortage are already harming the communities, supply chains and economies that depend on our industry,” said Umberto de Pretto, IRU secretary general.
“With the rate of newcomers being significantly lower than drivers retiring every year, urgent action is needed now.”
Competition for international drivers
It means employers in Canada could face increasing competition for international drivers to help fill labor needs.
“Our research also shows that the Canadian trucking industry attracts a larger share of immigrants and non-permanent residents than many other industries in Canada,” Faucette said.
“Recently, truck drivers have been added to Express Entry and included in category-based selection, which should make it much easier to bring truck drivers into Canada.”
Without stronger efforts to attract and retain a trucking workforce, more than 7 million jobs will be vacant worldwide in five years, IRU says.
Across the surveyed countries, China, Europe, and Turkey reported a respective 20%, 17%, and 28% of driving jobs were unfilled.
At least half of the surveyed operators said they are unable to expand their businesses and lose revenues along with existing customers, as costs for fuels, equipment, and salaries rise.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), for example, reports that the marginal costs of U.S. driver salaries grew by over 15% last year.
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