ATTRACTING YOUTH TO THE INDUSTRY…TIME TO STOP TALKING ABOUT IT AND TAKE ACTION
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.