February 8th 2019
If you work in or around the trucking industry in British Columbia (or Canada, or North America for that matter) you know that the driver shortage is quickly becoming a crisis. And...this crisis is coming to a grocery store, lumber yard, or gas station near you. After all, we like to say that "if you got it, it came by truck".
Nationally, the trucking industry is estimated to be short 33,000 drivers by 2020, and 48,000 driver by 2024 - and this may be conservative. In BC, the industry is most recently estimated to have been short 5,000 drivers in 2018.
This is a complicated issue with many factors, one of which is BC's Graduated Licensing Program for achieving a personal car license. "How could the two possibly be connected?" you ask. Just read on...
British Columbia's graduated licensing program makes it very difficult to attract young workers to the trucking profession. Before a young person can obtain a commercial license, they must complete all of the phases of the GLP program.
GLP Phase Duration
Learner "L" 1 year
Novice "N" 2 years
Total 3 years
Even if a young person were to get their basic Learner's license as soon as they turn 16 (seemingly an increasing rarity these days),and they take a driver training course which shortens their novice "N" license by 6 months, the earliest they can get their commercial license is 18 1/2 years old. At best. Often times it will be 19 years old or later.
Young people are often started down their career path long before the opportunity even exists to get a commercial driver's license. In a survey of parents at a BC school district considering developing and delivering an advanced commercial driver training program as part of a grade 12 curriculum, parents were very reluctant to see their teenager start down the path to a job they would be unable start working in until well after graduating high school - the last thing they want is an unemployable young adult hanging around the house...waiting.
The GLP program falls under the purview of ICBC in British Columbia. Changes are needed to allow young people an exemption to enter into an accredited commercial driver training program before completing their GLP. The industry is certainly not suggesting that young people be allowed to take the current ICBC commercial driver test as it stands, but a much more comprehensive program raising the standards.
The federal government just announced that regulation will be in place for Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) by 2020. This is a great first step in raising these standards and clearing the path for provincial adoption of a provincial MELT program and modification of the GLP to allow the industry to begin training young people to become industry professionals.
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