Decline in truck drivers will affect Canadian economy: conference board

There is an increasing gap between the supply and demand of truck drivers, which will be costly to the Canadian economy, according a Conference Board ...

There is an increasing gap between the supply and demand of truck drivers, which will be costly to the Canadian economy, according a Conference Board of Canada study released this morning.

Vijay Gill, principal research associate at the board and author of the study, found there are few young people and immigrants entering the truck driving industry and tens of thousands of drivers approaching retirement age.

This means the cost of moving goods is going to increase, ultimately leading to increased prices for consumers.

“It prevents some retail and manufacturers from moving the stuff they want to move and effectively limits their growth and at the same time has an impact on the price of the goods they consume,” Gill told Business in Vancouver.

Gill explained that it is difficult to quantify just how much the driver shortage will cost the economy.

“There’s going to be, and already has been, a reorganization of supply chains and also how carriers manage their drivers and the products that they move,” he said. “This is very costly.”

He did point out that the real GDP of the trucking industry is currently around $17 billion, and that its economic impact is around twice that figure.

The study found:

  • the age of the average truck driver increased to 44 in 2006 (higher than the age of the average worker in Canada) from 40 in 1996;
  • the gap between the supply and demand of truck drivers will reach 25,000 in 2020, but could grow as high as 33,000; and
  • the participation of young people (ages 15 to 24) in the industry has decreased significantly in the last decade.

One of the reasons for the decline, said Gill, is that truck driving is not recognized as a skilled trade.

“If the occupation was recognized as a skilled trade, the it would have implications for the supply of drivers,” he said, citing the example of someone is trying to enter the country as a skilled immigrant and they are trained as a driver, it doesn’t help them get in.

“It’s not only an immigration issue because if it’s recognized as a skilled trade, it would likely enhance the image of the industry and the occupation domestically as well.”

More information about the report can be found here.

ecrawford@biv.com

@EmmaCrawfordBIV

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