As traditional carriers compete to attract drivers to their fleets, there are plenty of non-traditional employers that are also looking for candidates with A/Z and D/Z licences to join their businesses.
“If you can’t find them, you got to make them. Training is the future to address driver shortage,” says Brandon Muir, supervisor at GFL Environmental.
Participating in a discussion at the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s sixth annual conference recently, Muir noted that the waste management company attracts talent from the broader labor, not driver, pool.
Andrea Boddy, chief consultant and owner of Andrea Boddy Consulting representing Concrete Ontario, said the group has fixed a fatal flaw in its recruitment strategy. The association and its members have introduced frequently asked questions (FAQs) on their websites about what life as a ready-mix delivery professional looks like.
In the past, if one Googled questions about driving in the concrete industry, there were zero answers.
The FAQs include what kind of licence is required to drive a concrete truck, what safety protocols exist, whether overtime is paid, and how physical the job is. “If you don’t make those answers available, you are going to lose them,” she says of candidates.
John Faustino, fleet driver trainer for the City of Markham said the challenge is to hire people qualified to operate commercial vehicles, even if their primary function is not operating commercial vehicles.
Some jobs require a candidate with a D/Z licence along with other qualifications. For example, the water works department needs people with water works accreditation as well as a D/Z licence, and they can be hard to find.
The city hires people with the water works qualifications who do not have a D/Z licence. Faustino uses the city’s signing authority to upgrade them.
Markham’s parks department employs a lot of seasonal workers who only need a G licence to operate a pickup truck with a trailer. Many of those workers have ambitions to find full-time work with the city. They are asked to train at a private driving school, obtain their D/Z licence and reapply for a position.
Human resources must work with marketing to recruit employees. Companies need to figure out who they are trying to reach and what they are trying to say to them, Boddy noted. The story must be placed on the right social media platform, so it speaks to future employees and allows them to respond.
Trucking needs more women and companies can do more to attract them. There are 3,700 certified ready-mix trucks in Ontario, and only 40 women drivers. “That is bad news, but it also screams opportunity,” Boddy says.
Several themes emerged after Concrete Ontario surveyed the women on what could be done better.
They wanted women’s bathrooms, well-lit facilities to feel safe and personal protective equipment that was made to fit them.
Women wanted would-be employers to let them know they are welcome to apply for jobs. They indicated they did not see a single picture of women driving a ready-mix truck on some websites.
Muir said recruiters should think like a graduate from a school who is looking for a job and tailor their efforts. GFL provides training but it was not mentioned in job postings. The company now mentions it offers training. Some candidates may think they haven’t run lift axles or walking floors and walk away from the job before even applying for it, he said.
GFL Environmental offers a paid 10-week training program for non-experienced A/Z drivers and picks from an abundance of new graduates in the Greater Toronto Area that few fleets want to hire.
The company hauls loads during training so a vehicle is not tied up. It also pays for D/Z licence training through a private school for staff working as general laborers who show potential.