Encouraging school leavers to join the road transport industry

In News5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 26, 2023

Throughout my Road to success journey, I have been asked constantly what we are doing to attract school leavers into our industry. I want to turn that question around – how can you reach out and attract school leavers to your business and a career in transport?

It is no secret that the 17 to 25-year-olds coming into the workforce today are very different from those of us who entered at that age many years ago. Young employees are looking for something that offers more than just a pay check at the end of a week. They also expect to be supported and guided as they start their working life, not just shown how to do something and left to it.  Gen Y don’t want a job that requires 70 hours per week to keep the bills paid or the wheels turning; they increasingly want to be at the top before they have spent time at the bottom and see no reason why that can’t happen. They require patience as they learn that life doesn’t work that way!

I am fond of the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know” and this is where the story begins for school leavers. The life of a truck driver sometimes has been perceived as unglamorous, physically demanding, undervalued and underpaid, with long hours and a lack of career progression. We have done a lot over the last few years to change that perception and show the benefits of a driving career. This includes qualifications pathways, progression opportunities, sustainable and reliable employment, great gear and advancements in technology and communication. A welcoming and inclusive working culture that supports ongoing training and development also goes a long way.

ShiftUP by Mito is a fully funded gateway programme designed to help school drivers into the industry. It allows high schools to engage with local employers to promote career opportunities to students who have an interest in truck driving. They spend one day a week over 10 weeks on work experience with an employer, to see for themselves what life in a transport operation is like. If the student enjoys the experience and shows potential to an employer, they can gain a part-time job while completing school, leading to a trainee/entry role into that business.

This is really positive, but unfortunately there is a stumbling block – a lack of industry support, with few operators engaging in this programme or reaching out to local high schools. This is your opportunity to connect with your local high school to provide this opportunity to students. Every transport business can do this – it costs you nothing but time, but may just lead to a future super star for your team.

Taking on a school leaver means keeping them motivated until they are able to begin their licence progression. By continuing the learning from ShiftUp with the Road to success Driver traineeship, you offer a qualification pathway that provides theoretical knowledge and a fundamental understanding of truck driving, before they sit behind the wheel. In this way, on-the-job training will make sense to a new driver and give them a head start when they get that class 2 licence.

To find out more about ShiftUp, contact MITO’s vocational careers advisor, visit their sign up website, call 0800 88 21 21 or email info@mito.org.nz; or email success@transporting.nz. Please feel free to contact me anytime: email fiona@transporting.nz or call 027 471 4350.

Fiona McDonagh is Road to success manager and membership benefits manager at Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.