By: G. Ray Gompf, CD
The year 2023 could become the transition year for many in the trucking industry. MELT is proving to be the nothing burger that is failing miserably, as many of us knew would be the case. It was a great baby step forward but then nobody took the next step.
That next step has to be making truck driving a red seal skilled trade. Truck driving is a multifaceted trade. There are different skills required for hauling general freight in a dry box; hauling logs out of the bush presents a whole different set of challenges; and there’s tanker operations requiring yet a different set of skills. Reefers are different again. Then there’s flat bedding with its unique load security issues. None of the various types of trucking can afford to have drivers unskilled in what they do. MELT was, and is, minimal basic entry level training designed to have truck driving schools all teaching an agreed upon curriculum. MELT is minimum. Now, could the carriers, industry wide, ensure the secondary and tertiary skill development beyond minimum? Some do, most don’t.
Maybe 2023 will become the paradigm shift needed to have skills development a prime mover in driver recruitment and be certain skills development is the part of the industry that finally improves safety at all levels.
Recruiting will continue to be a problem. Recruiting is bringing new people into the industry and not raiding competing carriers work force. Women continue to be brought into the ranks but not enough yet. We’ve seen that the number of women entering the trucking sector is growing; this is encouraging to see. Career changers are a large part of recruiting but there must be more innovative efforts applied to training more people to meet the demands.
Taxes and higher costs will continue to plague trucking until our government realizes the oil and gas isn’t the Earth killer and allow us to use, if even on an interim level, the massive proven resources we have within our country. What difference would it be to use our own oil instead of spending billions for Middle East oil?
During 2022 and the myriad of convoys, the trucking industry, rightly or wrongly, suffered a great deal of damage to its image. Hopefully, 2023 will help recover some of that image and improve it. Making this paradigm shift to have trucking become a red seal trade status will help be the success minor tweaks haven’t achieved.
The experts are those of us that have walked the walk and driven the miles to earn our expert status. We are experts but don’t have the degreed learning; we have experienced learning. Although the trucker’s education level is oft times higher than that of the general public, many don’t think that way and see trucking as a low skill job, which it isn’t at all. As this red seal skilled trade status is being considered, those of us with decades of experience learning our trade must be heard in the planning.
Let’s hope that 2023 will become another year of change, but this time to make the trucking industry better overall.