Preparing for the 21st Century

It’s about time the trucking industry began preparing for the 21st century. It’s no good living in the past, we have to look forward. A couple of initiatives announced this week suggest there is some movement in this direction and we are looking forward, as opposed to looking back.

One of the demographic challenges which faces Australian society, generational imbalance, is even more of an issue in the trucking industry. A large proportion of the people working as drivers in trucking are baby boomers, and they are getting older every year. Large numbers of them will retire every year. Not only will all of that experience and knowledge be walking out of the door, but the number of young people starting their careers in the industry is much lower. Hence an imbalance.

The trucking industry remains largely unattractive to young people looking for an interesting and rewarding career. We don’t come over very well and often, fail to be able to talk the language young, smart people understand.

Trucking also manages to be even less attractive to half of the possible candidates by being male dominated and even more unattractive to young women. Yes, we can point to some very able and successful exceptions, women who are really engaged and making waves in the trucking industry. However, they are exactly that, exceptions.

Therefore, it is good to see the Australian Trucking Association coming up with a couple of initiatives to try and change these perceptions and engage a new demographic we desperately need. There needs to be more thinking outside of the box and less worrying about internal squabbling between factions in trucking. Everyone fails if we run out of suitable personnel.

The Future Leaders’ Forum is said to be a career-defining professional program for hand-picked trucking business owners and employees. They come from a range of backgrounds and roles, including logistics, business management, technology and innovation.

Two days of intensive workshops in Canberra in late March, will outline how government policy is developed and how businesses and industry associations can have an influence in an effective and ethical way. Participants will be supported by Wisdom Learning, a Canberra based RTO that specialises in leadership training.

This small investment in our future is vital to move the way trucking thinks about the future, from the old model to the new model. We need young people to step up and demand to be allowed to take the reins from their parents’ generation. Any kind of perceptions of a glass ceiling for young people in positions of responsibility in the industry will see them going elsewhere, moving out of the industry into one where their abilities are appreciated.

In another initiative design students will focus on helping young car drivers share the road safely with trucks as part of the 2018 Re:act challenge. The ATA is partnering with strategic creative agency Hard Edge and Swinburne University for the challenge, and will use the results to inform the design and messaging used by the ATA Safety Truck.

Trucking must be seen to be doing something to improve the behaviour of young car drivers around our vehicles. Trucks are large and very heavy. Young drivers have little understanding of the dynamics at play at 100 km/h and if they do make a mistake, they are the most likely to suffer the consequences.

The Re:act project will allow the industry to engage with a young audience. This gives trucking more insights into how young people think about these issues and, at the same time, exposes youngsters to the reality of trucks and trucking.