June 17, 2016 11:50 pm
Updated: June 18, 2016 6:52 pm

Southern Alberta trucking industry suffering from driver shortage

At a time where many businesses in Alberta are short on jobs, the trucking industry is suffering from a shortage of drivers, Allie Miller reports.

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At a time when many businesses in Alberta are short on jobs, the trucking industry is struggling to fill positions.

“By 2020, we are looking at a shortage of about 33,000 drivers, if not more,” said Kani Jacobsen, Southern Alberta Truck Expo Coordinator.

Industry experts were in Lethbridge on Friday for the annual Southern Alberta Truck Expo. They collected resumes and tried to entice prospective employees to become the new generation of truck drivers.

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The trucking industry is facing driver shortage as many drivers currently on the road head for retirement.

“I had one fellow who just retired at the age of 67,” said Gateway Carriers Owner Trevor Currie. “I have a couple more approaching that age as well.”

”The only way to replace an old driver is with a new driver. The only way to get a new driver nowadays is to make one.”

“Making” a driver, however, takes time, determination and money – truck driving is not recognized as a trade, meaning anyone hoping to pursue the career has to pay for their education out of pocket.

“It’s expensive and we need to have mechanisms to borrow money. A part of that is having [truck driving] recognized as a trade,” said Mountain Transport Institute President Andy Roberts.

New drivers have to invest thousands of dollars to be properly certified; the industry is hoping for help from the government to ease the financial burden for new drivers.

“If we can get it to be a trade, maybe we can get some funding provincially or federally,” said Currie.

There is hope that will happen sooner rather than later to minimize the trickle-down effect.

“If the trucking industry faltered, it would get passed down to the consumer,” said Jacobsen.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment

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