A free program that trains women in the Lower Mainland to become truck drivers is getting a funding boost from the province.
The YWCA’s Changing Gears Program has received $1.6 million from B .C.’s Community and Employer Partnerships program, which will allow up to 50 more women to undergo training for a career as a truck driver, according to a news release issued Friday.
“More women will get the chance to train for good jobs that are in demand,” said Sheila Malcomson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in a media release Friday.
“This training program removes barriers for women who want to drive trucks and it gets employers qualified workers.”
The 24-week program is open to women who are unemployed, with a Class 5 licence and a clean driving abstract, according to the YWCA’s website. Initial training in Vancouver is followed by instruction at a licensed driving school with locations across the region. On-the-job training is also provided.
According to Trucking HR Canada’s November 2022 Labour Market Snapshot, only 3.5 per cent of truck drivers in Canada are women and demand for qualified drivers – already in short supply — is set to surge due to an aging workforce.
In B.C., 12,300 vacancies in the sector are projected over the next 10 years, the vast majority of which will be due to openings created by the need to replace retiring drivers.
“We know we need the talent and potential of more British Columbians to fill future job needs, which is why with improved training initiatives we are working to close the skills gap that has left too many women out of high-demand jobs that pay well,” said Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in Friday’s statement.
More information on the YWCA’s program is available online.