I’m looking out for a hero after last week’s NatRoad conference ended with gongs being handed out to veteran members of the two associations which merged to form the current organisation, back in the nineties. It was a time for a bit of nostalgia and there is always someone whose speech can go on a little bit too long.
This longevity of service can be a good thing, showing loyalty and industry involvement over a long period is how a person giving back to their community, trucking. It also enables the association to understand its own history, helping to inform future decisions.
What is surprising, however, is how many of these long term members still form the backbone of many of the industry associations. Where is the next generation in all of this? And the next generation after that? There are some notable and effective exceptions, but the numbers are quite low.
Trace back the history of the veterans and you can often find a particular crisis which stirred their passions and got them out there fighting for their rights or the survival of their business. There are some great stories told and fantastic camaraderie was built up between these people.
There doesn’t seem to be the same kind of culture growing around the fight top stop the RSRT earlier this year. If the younger generations got involved it was short lived, there has not been the radicalisation of people involved in the industry which spurs them on to get involved and precipitate change.
We have to ask ourselves whether this is because the crisis just wasn’t as severe and people really didn’t feel threatened by the situation. Could it be something to do with this particular generation? Are they not engaging as a general rule in anything outside of their immediate circle?
They do talk about a growing lack of engagement in society with politics as a whole. The lack of lots of young vibrant activists in trucking may just be a symptom of a wider malaise.
The problem for us is this does not bode well for the future. Those veterans are getting older and they will stop engaging quite so much as they do now, over time. This is likely to create a vacuum in some situations, not enough people to sit on committees and organise campaigns.
What do we know about vacuums? Something will always come along and fill it. If there are not enough younger people stepping up and filling those chairs in the meetings being held, there are others who will. Others who don’t necessarily have the best interests of trucking, as a whole, in their hearts. People who have an agenda, looking for political gain, driven by self-interest.
It would seem to be the time for the trucking industry as a whole to look to its young people, look for those with the best motives and invite them into the room where the decisions are being made. Give them real responsibility for the future and let the sensible caring majority run the show and silence those with less honourable intentions.