MONTREAL, Que. – Recruitment and retention challenges took center stage at the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Summit in Montreal this year.
According to Bernard Boulé, general manager of Camo-Route, there are currently 1,485 vacant heavy vehicle mechanic positions in Quebec. About 400 students graduate each year, and some of them will eventually change careers. “It’s not enough,” said Boulé, adding that the situation was even more worrying for truckers. “This is a major challenge for the industry.”
Women are still largely underrepresented in trucking, despite efforts to attract more.
“Seventy per cent of academics are girls,” says Patrice Lagarde, president of Virus 1334, the agency behind a Quebec Trucking Association (ACQ) recruitment campaign. “And there is clearly a problem of reception, integration, and perception of women in this environment.”
Camo-Route has given itself a mandate to increase the share of women in Quebec’s transportation industry to 10%, up from today’s 3%.
The employer-employee balance of power has also changed somewhat in recent years, as many potential candidates now wonder what the company can do for them.
Marco Girardin, director of safety, compliance and fleet for TYT Group, admits that the shortage of manpower has led personnel to change its hiring criteria.
“Promote your employment brand to appeal to young people,” Lagarde suggested. “You do not know what the employment brand is? Call in human resources and speak with a specialist.”
According to Lagarde, millennials like to travel, live new experiences, and change their jobs to try to improve their lot in life. “It’s going to happen more and more often, and companies will have to learn to adapt. In particular, by training employees to perform a variety of tasks.”
Many career counselors are unaware of the job categories that exist, Lagarde said.
“There are enough people in Quebec to fill all the positions to be filled. But it’s a bit like Tinder. You have to be the most beautiful to attract them into the industry,” he said, referring to the popular dating app.
“We have to think outside the box and develop initiatives,” said Boulé, citing as an example the mechanics who traditionally have to bring their own tools to work, unlike an office worker who does not have to pay for their own chair and computer.
“It was our fault. We saw the shortage come and we did not do anything as an industry,” said Luc Fortier, head of vehicle maintenance – central Canada at Agropur. “Now we have to work to become more attractive.”
During the panel’s question period, two well-known industry personalities took the floor to offer additional advice to participants.
“It is essential to stand out as an employer,” said Jacques DeLarochellière, president of Isaac Instruments. “Then you’ll see all that word-of-mouth can do for you.”
“In recruiting kiosks, you need passionate people, not just employees who explain the operation of the drug reimbursement program,” said Yves Provencher, director — market and business development at Lion Electric. “It’s you, gentlemen, who should be in the booths,” he said, referring to the ExpoCam trade show that opened the following day.
“I know you do not like the idea of stealing employees from you, but that’s the new reality,” said Jessica Joyal, president of jessicajoyal.com, during a related panel.
New employees won’t be 100% effective on their first day on the job, particularly because schools focus more on theory, she said.
And it is important to know that millennials are more interested in flexibility than in compensation,” Joyal added.
“Respond quickly to messages and update your website, including the career section … Is there a daycare near your business? Mention it.”
Joyal adds that, during an interview, candidates will notice if your Christmas decorations were not removed in June or if your chairs are broken. Small details like these can make all the difference.