As the saying goes, “Houston, we have a problem.” That is to say, we have an acute shortage of truck drivers in America problem.
Truck Drivers Needed In America
According to a Starpoint article the American Trucking Association estimates that 80,000 more drivers are needed to make up a shortage in America this year and a shortfall of 160,000 truckers will exist by 2030. The shortfall is attributed to high demand, a retiring workforce and a lack of new drivers coming into the industry. A Smart Trucking article adds that drivers are leaving the industry because they want jobs that offer better pay, benefits and working conditions. A Zippia article says that drivers are simply not happy with the lifestyle of spending long days behind the wheel of their truck, spending nights in gas station parking lots, or even sleeping on the side of the road.
According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the aging of the labour force is seen as a ticking demographic time bomb for the trucking industry. Globally, there are two to five times as many older drivers, 55 years of age and up, than there are young drivers, those under 25 years of age. Furthermore, less than three percent of truckers are women, although in the United States the proportion is higher at roughly eight percent.
No Shortage Of Foreign Drivers Available
There is no shortage of qualified truckers interested in coming to work in the United States—truckers who would be happy to work in America under these conditions to fill the shortfall. The question is how to bring them here.
Canada Has This Same Problem
Canada faces this very same problem. But it is doing something about it. According to an Immigration.ca article, Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is expected to open up Canada’s Express Entry program to truckers. Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) spokesman Jonathan Blackham reportedly told Trucking News, “In light of an acute labour shortage and a strained supply chain, this is very welcome news for our industry and by extension the Canadian economy.” The national trucking association claims Canada’s immigration minister made the commitment to allow truckers from other countries to apply through Express Entry programs in correspondence with the CTA.
“The CTA will be working to help finalize the details and provide members with educational sessions on how they might use the Express Entry programs,” the association noted in a statement. “CTA expects the industry could be fully eligible for participation before the end of 2022.”
Canadian Express Entry To Solve The Problem
The Canadian Express Entry system allows applicants who meet eligibility criteria to submit an online profile known as an Expression of interest (EOI) under one of the three federal immigration programs or a participating provincial immigration program to the Express Entry Pool. Applicants who are chosen and approved are granted Canadian permanent residence under the program in less than a year.
America Needs A New Program
While America has some immigration programs that might be used to recruit foreign truck drivers, such as the H2B, EB3 and E-2 visa options mentioned in a previous Forbes article, none of these immigration options specifically address America’s truck driver needs in the same way that the Canadian program will. America needs to open up a new program specifically to address this growing problem. The Canadian program could serve as a model for America in this regard. Now would be a great time for America to undertake such a task to help the trucking industry.
This article originally appeared on Forbes