A new initiative has been announced this week and it’s something we have needed for some time and are going to be desperate for in the future, if there is one thing the trucking industry needs, it’s diversity.
Trucking in Australia has been dominated by white anglo males since it began and as we look around those working in trucking, either as drivers, owners, operations etc, there is not a lot of diversity. Admittedly, there is a lot more than there was when I first started driving a truck back in 1977, but that has been driven by the shortage of white men willing to work in the industry.
In order to survive as a viable industry with a vibrant and young workforce, the industry has to welcome and attract people from every sector of society. The ones we want to join our workforce are young and diverse, they are out there, pouring out of schools with a good education behind them and deciding they are not interested in the trucking industry, in any way.
For any initiative to work, it has to dramatically cut through a set of prejudices which have developed as the trucking world has kept going forward with little change in its culture and personnel. Meanwhile, society has changed, we now have a richer and more diverse culture.
Because the culture of the trucking industry has remained somewhere in the seventies or eighties, those working in it have grown old in the job and few fresh young faces have arrived. The average age in many trucking operations is getting dangerously high, these drivers in their sixties are not going on forever and will retire eventually.
It is difficult to know just how to effect a change which is likely to bring about a younger, more vibrant and diverse workforce in the trucking industry. Two things are certain, however.
Whatever we do need, needs to start now before a shortage of skilled and proactive staff hinder road transport efficiency and, consequently, economic growth. Secondly, it is all about moving hearts and minds, driving a real change in the culture and bringing everyone working in the industry along with us.
The initiative announced by the Australian Trucking Association is to be called the Driving Change Diversity Program and concentrates on finding the diversity we already have, publishing stories about it and trying to get through to those people who are turning their backs on trucking.
This is not only a commendable initiative, it is also desperately needed. The only way the industry can grow to cope with future economic growth is with a much more diverse workforce than it currently has.
Any campaign has to cut through a lot of cultural issues and show trucking as an industry which has made real changes to its culture and is willing to be a lot more inclusive than it has in the past. This change cannot be cosmetic, it has to be real. The millennial generation may annoy some of us older generation with their attitudes but they do have a finely tuned bulls**t detector.