Chronic labour shortages may have a solution

A new solution recently hit the news in Britain, where food companies are warning that they may have trouble filling supermarket shelves this summer if something isn’t done about the significant trucker shortage plaguing that country. The solution: get the army to do it. | Getty Images

Trucker shortages are a perennial problem in Canada.

Steps have been taken over the years, such as educational campaigns to convince prospective employees that driving truck can be a fulfilling career.

Governments have also done their part, such as in Alberta, where a program was introduced to ease the cost of training.

But a new solution recently hit the news in Britain, where food companies are warning that they may have trouble filling supermarket shelves this summer if something isn’t done about the significant trucker shortage plaguing that country.

The solution: get the army to do it.

The idea was raised during an “industry brainstorming session,” a spokesperson for one of Britain’s largest food companies told the Reuters news agency recently.

The meeting was between officials of the country’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and food industry representatives.

Apparently, the pandemic and Brexit have resulted in a shortage of more than 100,000 truck drivers in Britain, threatening what has been described as an “unimaginable” collapse of supply chains.

The suggestion that soldiers who have truck driver licences step into the breach didn’t get a lot of traction. A government spokesperson later said there were no plans to use military personnel to haul food around the country.

Instead, the government says it will relax rules governing how long truck drivers can work as a temporary fix.

While it doesn’t look like it was taken seriously, the suggestion is an intriguing one that has implications here at home.

Canadian farmers are always complaining that they can’t find enough workers.

One would think that if a young person can keep a tank moving in the right direction, he should be able to safely manoeuvre a combine around a canola field.

If a highly skilled demolitions expert is able to keep her wits about her while working with bombs and artillery shells, you’d think she wouldn’t have any trouble successfully navigating her way around a buzzing bee hive.

Better yet, if I can’t find a crew in Saskatoon to build me a new fence this summer, maybe a few members of the Armed Forces’ engineering corp could be recruited to help me out.

Perhaps the Brits are on to something.

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