As an industry we need more than talk when it comes to developing training and accreditation to bring more people into the trucking industry and save it from the generational crunch which is coming. It’s not as if this is a new problem, it has been coming a long time and there has been a lot of talk for a lot of time. Now is the time for action.
The trucking industry is not a particularly sexy one. Young people coming into our industry don’t get to sit around thinking lattes in hipster cafes in the centre of the big cities. They don’t get to wear smart clothes on the way to work and they won’t get to work at the coal face of the industry until they are in their mid-20s.
The trucking industry doesn’t present very well in the public mind. Truck driving is regarded by many as a lower status profession, but profession it is. The levels of skill and knowledge steering large trucks up-and-down highways of this country is substantial, but the general populace only see big trucks dangerously clogging up their highway. No wonder they don’t want their kids to go into our industry.
There is always a lot of talk about how we can’t attract young people coming into our industry. There is talk of initiatives and incentives and smartening up the image of trucking, but there are very few concrete examples or any substantial scheme which has made a real difference.
There are standout individuals and individual operations who have done some great work and really made a difference in there own and particular area or company. However, all the talk of coming up with schemes to train people to come into the industry and raising awareness and status for truck drivers seems strong on ideas, but not quite so strong action.
One of the initiatives which has been effective in what it set out to do got another leg up recently when Heather Jones picked up another new pink Volvo prime mover for her and her organisation, the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls. Here is a hands-on practical and effective group of enthusiasts who are and enabling people from outside of trucking to come into the industry and get a job as well as helping those stuck with a truck license and no experience, who can’t even get a job interview to drive trucks.
There is an ongoing initiative to develop some form of apprenticeship for those who wish to develop a career in the trucking industry being pursued by NatRoad and thePaccar organisation, but the timeline for getting this up and into practice is quite long. There are going to be much bigger driver shortages by the time any form of apprenticeship like this actually gets up.
No wonder the trucking companies are looking at platooning and autonomous trucks. They are the ones with the responsibility of keeping our roads safe and avoiding collisions between their trucks and, frankly, untrained in unaware car drivers.
The business community is aware of the importance of good logistics and effective road transportation to the efficiency and productivity of businesses. Government is aware of the importance of road transport efficiency to the well-being of our gross domestic product. The road transport industry itself is not very good at showing how important it is to the nations well-being that there is a substantial cohort of young people who want to be involved in the trucking industry and who could be well trained and properly prepared to take this country forward.
We probably need less of this talk and more action, we need to get real facts and real numbers in front of the people in power, who make the decisions, to demonstrate that there is a drastic need for substantial help in recruiting quality people to take trucking into the future.