Canada's National Occupational Classification (NOC) code classifies more than 40,000 jobs into one of four skill levels. Unfortunately, the occupation of truck driver is classified, wrongly, as a "low-skilled" position and it causing a lot of issues for the trucking industry in British Columbia and Canada.
Canada's trucking industry is responsible for delivering 90% of all consumer goods to the end user. That means that the tablet or laptop you are reading this on came by truck. The chair you are sitting on and the ice cream you are currently contemplating and the car you might just take to the ice cream store, and the gas that powers that car, and on and on...you guessed it, all came by truck.
And the truck itself has evolved to become a very advanced, highly technological, high powered and very efficient piece of equipment to do that work of carrying all your "stuff". The driver that sits in the cockpit of that unit and controls and monitors the technology and systems, as well as navigates all of the elements that mother nature has to throw at her, through the darkness of night and sweltering heat of the day...is a highly skilled professional.
Like any industry, we have our share of "bad-apples". That small percentage of the driver population that is not skilled (or not capable of acquiring the skills), not interested or, in some cases, not caring about their career or the industry whose image they may tarnish. But this does not speak to the significant majority of the professional driver community who are skilled, care and do an excellent job.
The NOC code is important because it helps to set an industry occupation up for success, or failure, by the very nature of it's skill classification. Jobs that are classified as "skilled", or "semi-skilled" enjoy the walls coming down to such things as educational training and grants, easier access to immigration, and more.
Those who work in or are close to the trucking industry have a clear understanding of the looming (and in some cases current) driver shortage that is set to plague our industry. Nationally, the industry is expected to be short 33,000 drivers by 2020, and 48,000 drivers by 2024. The industry is desperate to find ways to attract and retain professional drivers, and the NOC code has an important role to play in allowing for that.
In BC, and much of Canada, drivers are currently not required to take any specific amount of training before attempting to get their commercial driver's license. That's right, no required training. In British Columbia, they simply have to able to pass the ICBC commercial drivers license test which, by industry accounts, represents a very low standard. Driver's having only their commercial license, no formal training and no experience are considered unemployable to responsible trucking companies in the industry. Federally, the government has just announced the mandate to establish Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) standards for commercial drivers - something the industry has been calling on for years.
Those drivers who elect to take driver training (often times through a college, university, or private driving school) most often do it at entirely their own cost. A basic commercial driving course can often be $10,000 while sector-specific training (log hauling for instance) can run closer to $25,000. With no access to educational loans (as you would for almost any other kind of advanced education), is it any wonder that people considering a career in commercial driving either opt out of formal training entirely, take the bare minimum they can, or seek other forms of work?
Immediate changes are needed to reclassify the position of truck driver as, at a minimum, "semi-skilled" to allow more people to be in a position to consider truck driving as a career, as well as to provide industry with well-trained, safe and competent applicants.
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