Help Wanted: Maritime trucking industry seeks drivers as it faces shortage
The trucking industry is hanging out the ‘Help Wanted’ sign, says there are hundreds of jobs available in the Maritimes that are not being filled.
Kevin Bertin has been working as a truck driver for 12 years and admits the job isn’t for everyone.
“It’s a completely different lifestyle altogether. Sure, it’s a job, but it’s more of a lifestyle, it really is,” says Bertin. “If you go to the grocery store, or wherever you go to buy whatever product you’re getting and it’s there, you can guarantee someone busted their butt in order to get it there so you can have it.”
That lifestyle sometimes includes long hours on the road, working alone, and long stretches away from home and family.
“The way I understand it is, if you’re a new person coming into the industry, most of the employees are going to want you to be out on the road for 12 to 14 days,” says Bertin. “That’s how it is doing long haul. Good luck getting a local job.”
Those working conditions are contributing to a shortage of truckers across the region, with roughly 800 job openings in New Brunswick alone.
The trucking industry is one of the biggest employers in the Maritimes and the drivers currently on the road are part of an aging demographic.
“So the average age is up there and we’re not seeing an influx of people wanting to join our industry,” says Jean Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.
He says the longer range outlook is even more challenging.
“By 2025, Canada will need about 25,000 to 33,000 drivers, with about 3,000 of those in Atlantic Canada,” says Picard.
He says the industry needs a new strategy when it comes to recruiting and keeping truckers on the road.
“Everything is kind of changing. It’s kind of evolving, not only to meet the customer’s needs, but also to retain those good people.”
The Maritime trucking industry is now looking at ways to change its image and its working conditions as it searches for new employees.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron