Trucking is in vogue, thanks to drivers

OTTAWA, Ont. - Truck drivers have helped boost the image of the industry because of the role they play in keeping the economy running during the Covid-19 crisis, according to a new poll.

The survey of 1,800 people showed that 54% Canadians have a positive impression of trucking companies, whereas only 27% have a favorable view of the airline industry. Only 5% had a negative view. The poll was conducted during May 14-18 by Abacus Data for Trucking HR Canada, and released Wednesday at a webinar on how Canadians see the industry in the context of the pandemic.

Trucking is in vogue, thanks to driversDavid Coletto, CEO, Abacus Data Photo: Blair Gable/Abacus Data

"I think there's a real appreciation for the way the sector has delivered for Canadians in many ways."

- David Coletto, CEO, Abacus Data.

"I think there's a real appreciation for the way the sector has delivered for Canadians in many ways," said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.

"And, I think a lot of the negatives that are often associated with truck driving - accidents, safety questions - were really not there. So, you have got this moment where people could actually empathize (with) you." In fact, Coletto said, overall impression of the sector has risen 10-15% over the past few months.

The poll also revealed that 72% of those surveyed now consider trucking as an essential sector. Once again, the airline industry pales in comparison, with just 16% saying it is essential. Eighty-five percent said Canada needs a strong trucking sector for the economy to be healthy.

Still cool to a trucking career

Despite all the positive views, people are still not rushing to join the industry.

Just 35% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 said they would consider a job in the sector.

Trucking is in vogue, thanks to drivers

"There's still some trepidation, a little bit higher than we had seen in the past among younger Canadians, but still a very small number who say I definitely wouldn't consider doing this," said Coletto. "Building a platform that gets young people to reconsider a career or consider a career in the sector requires them to think highly of it, requires them to believe that other people think highly of it, and that they feel that it fits well with the kind of lifestyle and needs that they have," Coletto said. Angela Splinter, CEO of Trucking HR, said her organization is working with the Canadian Trucking Alliance and other partners on an image campaign to promote trucking industry jobs to all.

She said the nationwide campaign will address the negative perceptions young people have about the industry. The poll also raised questions about the affordability of truck driver training. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they want the federal government to provide funding for training.

"It is also reflective of a lack of understanding that most people have about what it actually costs to become a truck driver," said Coletto. He said there is a perception that the training is expensive. In Ontario, it costs between £8,000 and £10,000 to get a truck driver's licence.

Coping with Covid-19

Abacus Data also explored how Canadians are coping with the pandemic, and concluded that many people are very worried indeed.

Trucking is in vogue, thanks to drivers

In late March 40% of respondents said they were worried about the pandemic, but as of May 18, the "worry curve" had fallen to 29%, Coletto said.

"So, that is basically three out of 10 Canadians saying they are still extremely worried or worried a lot about this pandemic." The pandemic has financially hurt many Canadians, with many feeling a real impact.

"It underscores the level of insecurity, the level of vulnerability that so many Canadians right now are feeling, and I've never seen a number this high."

- David Coletto, CEO, Abacus Data

"As of early May, one out of five Canadians still say to us that they are worried their job will disappear," Coletto said. "And so, it underscores the level of insecurity, the level of vulnerability that so many Canadians right now are feeling, and I've never seen a number this high."

Coletto said people are ware that the government stimulus cannot go on forever.

In all, Abacus Data conducted seven national surveys since mid-March, interviewing more than 16,000 people.

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