2021 Employer Survey: Top Employer Challenge – Truck Driver Labour Shortages

By: Tanara Ferguson


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, trucking and logistics businesses have faced many challenges including: increased health and safety regulations, supply chain backlogs, fluctuating demand for their services, rising input prices, and changing workforce needs.

As vaccines have become available and the economy recovers, what will the new normal look like for our industry?

This past summer, as part of Trucking HR Canada?s (THRC) labour market information (LMI) work, we surveyed employers to better understand how the sector?s employment and business activity is changing, the challenges companies are now facing, and the supports the sector will need moving forward.

These employer surveys are an important component of this work ? work which includes our specialized analysis of publicly available sources, including Statistics Canada?s census and other labour force surveys, augmented with data directly from employers to fill in the gaps.

Here, are the results.

1 – Top Employer Challenge ? Truck Driver Labour Shortages

Over 75% of employers expect a shortage of truck drivers to be a challenge in the next 6 months, over 50% indicating that it will be their top challenge. Recruiting truck drivers was also identified as the most challenging HR task. Labour shortages for non-truck driver positions is also top of mind with 46% of respondents indicating that this too would be a challenge.

2 – Companies carrying non-essential* goods had lower revenues in 2020

51% of companies experienced a decrease in revenues in 2020 compared to 2019, with businesses carrying non-essential goods more likely to experience that decrease ? 65%, compared to those companies carrying essential goods ? 38%.

* Non-essential companies are defined as those for which essential goods account for less than 50% of transported goods. In turn, essential companies are defined as those for which essential goods make up more than 50% of what their company transports.

3 -?Truck driver employment is rebounding

Truck driver employment is rebounding.? Amongst respondents a 5.3% decrease in truck driver employment was reported between 2019 and 2020, it then rebounds by 1.7% in 2021, 3.7% below its 2019 level.

4 – Companies continue to struggle with driver shortages

Of the survey respondents, 67% were unable to fill all the driver positions they needed this past year. Larger companies struggled more with over 80% of those with revenues over $25 million unable to fill their driver positions.

Employers indicated that lower numbers of applicants, applicants with low levels of experience, increasing retirement rates and increasing employee initiated turn over were factors that contributed to the shortage.

5 – Smaller companies have been slower to recover

41% of smaller companies (those with revenues less then $5 million) reported business activity below pre-pandemic levels compared to only 26% of companies with revenues above $5 million.

On average, companies with business levels below pre-pandemic levels (31% of respondents) expect to return to pre-pandemic levels in 14 months.

As we continue to work in supporting employers in meeting their HR challenges, here are some practical solutions that can help:

Our Career ExpressWay program has several financial incentives that can help. Our youth driver training subsidies, wage subsidies, and new student work placement program directly support the onboarding of younger workers.

And, new this fall, THRC will be releasing five resource guides to help industry employers and HR managers tackle the most pressing HR issues.

Call to participate – Are you interested in exploring new solutions to old, yet ongoing industry problems? To have these discussions, THRC is assembling a group of diverse, forward-thinking, innovators and leaders. To learn more visit: National Trucking HR Transformative Change Group | Trucking HR

Want to learn more? Visit our website today at truckinghr.com and be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter while you are there.? Watch for upcoming information sessions too that can help you access our financial incentives.