Linkages Project

Transportation and Warehousing - British Columbia

Research has confirmed that Indigenous involvement in the complex transportation and warehousing sector is at an early stage of development. There are, nonetheless, promising signs in some areas that present the opportunity to change this situation. Indigenous educational outcomes are improving; sector awareness of the value of reaching out to the Indigenous communities is increasing; the TRC process has heightened public interest in a greater level of inclusion for Indigenous people; and Canada’s Federal Government, as well as BC’s Provincial Government, both appear intent on improving the relationships with Canada’s Indigenous people.

The transportation and warehousing sector in British Columbia is a vibrant and diverse industry with a multitude of employment opportunities for Indigenous people. The industry offers great opportunities to build a career in one of the most critical sectors of the country’s economy.[1]  According to a 2016 report by the Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table, more than 177,375 jobs need to be filled across the four Western Canadian provinces. BC will see steady economic growth but will also lose the highest portion of its workers to those retiring and leaving the work force, with year 2021 expected to be the most difficult year for British Columbia in filling vacancies.

According to Stats Canada, in August 2017 Canadian employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 9,800, continuing an upward trend that began in February 2016. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this sector has increased by 44,000 (+4.8%).

Transportation and warehousing is also a major contributing factor to the health of the regional goods-producing industries. Over the last ten years, transportation and warehousing employment kept pace with overall employment growth in all Western provinces, however in BC the average yearly growth rate was higher than the average of all industries – 2.1% compared to .08%. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives submission to the 2018 BC budget consultation, motor vehicle and transit drivers were the third highest occupation in the number of vacancies. Considering the top ten occupations with the highest vacancies, these drivers attract the highest in wages at an average of $19.75 hourly.

Trucking is a major employer in Canada. Nearly 300,000 drivers and about 450,000 Canadians overall are employed by the Industry, resulting in nearly $24 billion in personal income nationwide. It is also the biggest single employer of males in Canada. This means that nearly 1 percent of the Canadian population and over 1.5 per cent of the labour force are employed as truck drivers.

In a recently released study (Oct 2017) by the American Transportation Research Institute, which included Canadian carriers, driver shortages surged six spots to the top of this year’s list of Industry concerns.

The warehousing sector is comprised of establishments primarily engaged in operating general merchandise, refrigerated and other warehousing and storage facilities. These establishments provide facilities to store goods for customers or for their own distribution. They may also provide a range of services, often referred to as logistics services, related to the distribution of a customer’s goods. Logistics services can include labelling, breaking bulk, inventory control and management, light assembly, order entry and fulfillment, packaging, pick and pack, price marking and ticketing and transportation arrangement.

According to the WorkBC Warehousing and Storage Industry Outlook Profile, the sector is forecasted to have above average growth over the next 5 years. The industry is projected to have over 5,000 job openings over the next 7 years (2025).

Warehousing offers many opportunities for low skilled workers to enter the workforce. A typical warehouse worker will play roles in receiving, storing, documenting, and delivering materials for your employer. Large warehouses are often fast-paced, while smaller ones tend to work around pick-ups and drop-offs from carriers. To be a warehouse worker, you must be in good shape, as workers are required to lift up to 50 pounds and walk or stand for most of their shift.

Considering the robust environment in BC surrounding the transportation and warehousing sector, coupled with the tightening of the natural resource sectors, Indigenous Works and the Federal Government were fundamentally correct in advancing this research now. Indigenous people have not played a substantial role in this significant and economically important sector.

To achieve this increased level of participation will take leadership and a longer-term planning horizon. Achievement of this goal will also require the mobilization and support of a broad range of stakeholders, and will also likely require increased support – financial and otherwise – to effect meaningful change.

Early research bears out that there are capacity and awareness constraints in BC in terms of training and retention. The key question is what to do about this situation, and more importantly to determine the policies, mechanisms and approaches that can change this paradigm from capacity constraints to full engagement of Indigenous workers in the sector.

[1] Trucking HR Canada – Millennials Have Drive - Oct 2017

BC Linkages Projects Summary Report Final at April 12 2018

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