Road Today - - Guest Column -

Ijoined this in­dus­try in 1990 at the age of 18, even then, I was an ab­nor­mal­ity. Most of the driv­ers were near­ing or above 40, and attracting youth to the in­dus­try was a chal­lenge. What has changed in the last 27 years? The av­er­age age of a truck driver is now near­ing 50, per a 2014 study by the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada, even less youth are com­ing into the in­dus­try, and at the High School level, for the most part, our In­dus­try is sim­ply nonex­is­tent as far as a po­ten­tial ca­reer goes. For years, we as an in­dus­try have laid blame on the in­abil­ity of be­ing able to at­tract youth to our In­dus­try to al­most any­one we could, blam­ing Guid­ance Coun­sel­lors for not pro­mot­ing us, the gov­ern­ment for not declar­ing us a skilled trade, the me­dia for cov­er­ing only the neg­a­tive side of the in­dus­try, and on it goes….. for the most part we com­plained to each other with in the in­dus­try…. how­ever we did not pro­mote our­selves out­side of our own cir­cle or find a way to con­nect with the youth…. is that ev­ery­one else’s is­sue, or is that our own? It is time we quit com­plain­ing about the youth we can’t at­tract, come to­gether as an In­dus­try and find a way to at­tract them our­selves.

I re­cently at­tended the TTSAO striv­ing for ex­cel­lence in Train­ing Con­fer­ence. One of the pan­els was en­ti­tled “Re­build­ing the Im­age of Truck­ing”. The panel con­sisted of pro­fes­sion­als out­side of the Truck­ing In­dus­try. The pur­pose was to give at­tendee’s the view of the In­dus­try from those not di­rectly in­volved in it. The com­ments from the pan­elists need to serve as an eye­opener.

Jac­quie Latham, a con­sul­tant with the On­tario School Coun­sel­lors As­so­ci­a­tion, com­mented “Stu­dents have no per­cep­tion of the In­dus­try as they have no real knowl­edge of it”. No knowl­edge of it is a sad state­ment on our abil­ity to pro­mote our In­dus­try to them…. no per­cep­tion is a good thing, as that means the can­vas is open for us to get our mes­sag­ing out there and pro­mote the op­por­tu­ni­ties within our In­dus­try. Alyson Truax, Em­ploy­ment On­tario Spe­cial­ist, York Re­gion, in­di­cated that a lot of the peo­ple who come to her with knowl­edge of the in­dus­try see noth­ing but road blocks in front of them, be it age, long pe­ri­ods away from home, long hours, sep­a­ra­tion from fam­ily. Alyson and Jac­quie also in­di­cated that we as an In­dus­try need to be bet­ter at pro­mot­ing our­selves through the chan­nels that peo­ple in to­days so­ci­ety will con­sume and share with their net­work of friends. It was made ap­par­ent that when the in­dus­try did con­tact schools or em­ploy­ment of­fices, for the most part they still pro­vided brochures and pam­phlets.

Peo­ple to­day, es­pe­cially the youth, sim­ply are not in­ter­ested. To at­tract the youth, we were ad­vised to try things like cre­at­ing a link to a por­tal on our web­site, pro­mote the ben­e­fits of the in­dus­try, the many job op­por­tu­ni­ties, en­sure it has pic­tures, video’s, short and in­ter­est­ing sto­ries. We need to use so­cial me­dia more to at­tract at­ten­tion to our com­pa­nies and our in­dus­try. We need to at­tend ca­reer fairs, go to our lo­cal schools, pro­mote our­selves to the driv­ers of to­mor­row. We need to change our way of think­ing and change the way we op­er­ate our busi­nesses…. so­ci­ety and the youth are not go­ing to change to suit our needs… so we bet­ter change to suit theirs, oth­er­wise we will be left in the rear view mir­ror….

The PMTC plans on tak­ing a lead­ing role in this ini­tia­tive. With the guid­ance of our Young Lead­ers Group, we will ex­plore ways to con­nect with School Guid­ance coun­sel­lors, de­velop a so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing plan to tar­get youth, up­date and pro­vide links to our web­site that will pro­mote the in­dus­try… we need to start some­where, and we plan to do our part. If you have ideas to share, please reach out to our of­fice, we will be glad to lis­ten.

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