Tagged: job

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We can’t attract more drivers while automating the profession

If we are going to attract young people to a career in the trucking industry, we need more than just a new marketing plan preaching a set of motherhood values based on past performance and the freedom of the open road.

When robots take bad jobs is the headline of an article written in The Atlantic and published online Feb. 27. It is worth a read. It highlights everything that is wrong with the trucking industry in the US from the perspective of a new hire.

Our employment standards here in Canada are not the same as they are for our neighbors to the south. Broadly speaking, we have more protections in place for individuals entering the industry but the push towards contractors over employees continues to bleed across the border. This article paints a picture of an industry that wouldn’t be a young person’s first career choice.

I recently read that Celadon now allows its lease-operators to haul for other carriers. Although the news was written from the perspective of enabling owner-operators and giving them more choice, it is not difficult to read between the lines and see how this is a first step towards combating the uberization of the freight market. It moves dispatching into the driver’s seat – a different twist on automation.

Over at Techcrunch.com on Feb. 28, there was a report on Starsky Robotics. This is a trucking company that is operating trucks remotely. Experienced drivers are operating trucks from the office. Capabilities are limited at present, but they have been in business for two years, have serious funding, and are expanding their operation. They have already done some driverless highway hauls and have plans to get drivers out of some trucks by the end of 2017. This is an example of using automation to have individual, experienced drivers control multiple trucks from a central location.

These three examples highlight the multitude of changes the trucking industry is embroiled in at the moment. We have a push from the top chasing after greater returns on investment through mergers and acquisitions, adoption of new technologies, and driving down employee costs. At the same time there is constant messaging about attracting new blood to the industry. So, we’re telling people how great this industry is to work in while we continue to undermine driver compensation and look for new ways to make a driver’s job redundant.

Is it really as bad as it looks on the surface? No, not from the perspective of drivers that work for progressive companies that recognize the value of the synergy between well-trained professional drivers and emerging technology.

This is where I pick up the drum I’ve been beating for the past several months. Training, certification, and a universal apprenticeship program. It’s time to realize the free market isn’t the be all and end all for solving the human resource problems that exist at the driver level.

The way to attract new blood into our industry is to market a clear career path to prospective drivers. That means bringing together government, training institutions, trucking companies, and equipment manufacturers under the same roof. That’s a big ask, but it has to be done and requires leadership from government to put forward legislation focused on long-term growth rather than short-term return on investment.

Technology is not going to replace drivers. It will reduce the number of drivers required. It will create specialized operators of heavy equipment on our roads that will require a higher level of training. The job of the driver is going to change. A universal method of training and certification is the only way to manage this change in a way that will minimize disruption across the trucking industry while defining the job of the truck operator in a rapidly changing market. That’s what we need to attract new blood.

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Al Goodhall has been a professional long-haul driver since 1998. He shares his experiences via his blog at http://truckingacrosscanada.blogspot.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Al_Goodhall.

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Conflicting messages will deter millennials

Obviously, we have a serious driver shortage. Millennials are one of the more promising solutions to this, but the younger generation – besides being more tech-savvy – are largely unsure about the viability of a driving career.

I don’t blame them, because I’m still not sure, and I’ve been here a while. Is ours a lifestyle very many people want anymore? In past decades, job searches were often based on word of mouth, whereas today the younger crowd is more apt to research this industry online and through industry publications such as this one.

Pretend, for a moment, that you know nothing about this industry, and randomly pick up an issue of Truck News. Read cover to cover, and you’ll notice the mixed signals trucking industry leaders and participants are sending.

Some people in the industry regularly send a mixed – sometimes completely false – message in their attempts to appear knowledgeable. One person from the industry was critical of those tampering with emissions systems on new trucks, stating “rules are rules, without exception.”

I don’t condone emissions systems tampering, but I understand why it happens. We’ve all heard of good owner-operators losing their new trucks, or small companies struggling, because of excessive downtime. A local owner-operator recently needed work done at an Ontario dealership, and had to book the work two weeks ahead, because the dealer currently had 42 trucks from the same fleet that wouldn’t run properly. It’s easy to see the position some companies have been placed in.

This same person from the industry, was later quoted as being pleased with the Ontario government’s decision to extend lift axle grandfathering by five years. Weren’t we just told: “Rules are rules, without exception?”

The extinction of lift axles had been discussed for more than 20 years, so it hardly came as a surprise. The frantic pre-buy by carriers to take maximum advantage of the grandfathering period could and should have just involved buying SPIF (Safe, Productive, Infrastructure-Friendly)-compliant equipment. This was a choice, made by many carriers to avoid new developments as long as possible, which was promoted as good business.

A new truck that continually shuts down isn’t a choice; it’s a harsh misfortune. Avoiding new trucks, or, in extreme circumstances, removing the problem, is considered a terrible offence, by the same people. I thought we were all being urged to adopt new technologies, but those with the most influence advise us how to conduct ourselves, then waffle a little on just what advancements we should adopt, based on the desires of the more influential companies.

When the young career-seeker reads the debates surrounding speed limiters or electronic logging devices (ELDs), it may be the last truck research they do. Forget your own personal stance; look at how ludicrous some of the conflicting arguments became.

How’s a young, inexperienced potential industry entrant supposed to feel, after reading that right and wrong, apparently, are based on moveable goalposts? Does this really make our industry look appealing? We’re literally chasing millennials out of the driver’s seat.

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Bill Cameron and his wife Nancy own and operate Parks Transportation. Bill can be reached at williamcameron.bc@gmail.com.

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HGV Class 1 Dray Driver job in Gloucester at Company Confidential

Staffline is one of the UK’s leading recruitment companies, helping to find work for thousands of people on a daily basis. Our temporary workers can enjoy great benefits including training and apprenticeships, as well as real opportunities for career progression and permanent employment.We are continuously recruiting for experienced HGV Class 1 Drivers (Draymen) to work on behalf of our client based in the Gloucester area. The main duties of the role will include collecting and delivering products from various depots across the United Kingdom.The ideal candidates will:Hold a valid HGV C+E diving licenceBe well presented and have good communication skillsBe of good physical fitness as this is a physically demanding role – candidates could be lifting up to 25kgSuccessful candidates will receive a 5 day manual handling training course and full uniform.The hours of work available are flexible from 4.00am – 2.00pm and 6.00am – 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.The rate of pay is £9.74 per hour.To apply for this position, please follow the link below and search Job ID 11588. View full job description[1]

References

  1. ^ View full job description (jcp.jobhits.co.uk)