In 25 years we’ll be having same conversation as we do today

All those theatre classes in university appear to have paid off.

I moderated my first panel discussion – with the help of the magazine’s director of business development, Lou Smyrlis, I should add – during the Manitoba Trucking Association’s AGM April 7 in Winnipeg, Man., two in fact, and if I do say so myself, I think they went pretty well.

I’m fairly comfortable up on stage, which, as I mentioned, all those theatre classes at Laurentian University managed to have shed at least a large chunk of the nervousness most people experience in front of an audience.

But that fear was tested when my co-moderator turned to me about an hour prior to us heading up on stage and said, “You may have to do these panels on your own” because he was feeling under the weather.

Thankfully, Lou managed to pull things together, but talk about keeping me on my toes.

The first panel addressed the ongoing advancements in technology and how that has reshaped, and will continue to reshape, the trucking industry.

The takeaway I got from this discussion was simple – technology is great if the right thing is used and used properly.

Whether it’s in our personal lives with smartphones, GPS devices, smart TVs, or some kind of tablet, or part of our work life to try and streamline and make our daily tasks more efficient, technology is not only here to stay, it’s progressing faster than most of us can keep up with.

So to be blunt, whether you’re an engineer, dispatcher, HR worker, or driver, get used to it, or you’re not only going to have a rough time, you might not make it at all.

The second panel tackled the human side of this progress, specifically the changing of the guard that the industry is experiencing as we speak, and will continue to for the next decade or so.

One of the keywords of 2017 – Millennials – was uttered more than once during this discussion, and panelists pretty much agreed that the younger generation would certainly change the face of trucking in the years to come (I think in a way they already have) and given the way technology is a primary factor in that change, it’s a good thing Millennials make up the largest portion of the workforce in Canada and the US today. In general, they are more equipped than any other generation to deal with technology and the fast and furious pace it changes.

Sure, there are plenty of things Baby Boomers and other generations can teach our country’s youth – how to talk to a person face-to-face, overall people skills, the value of hard work in all forms and in building relationships with others – but there are also a lot of skills Millennials can teach older generations, such as adapting to change, embracing new technologies that make work easier if used properly and not just dismissed, and how to work in a collaborative manner instead of incessantly adhering to the I’m-older-so-I-always-know-best mentality.

The average 50 year old has a much different set of skills than your everyday 25 year old. But that’s a good thing. Combined, they are unstoppable if they work in harmony instead of in opposition.

And in 25 years, when today’s Millennials become the old guard, the same conversation will rage on.

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A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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