Changing of the guard

by Derek Clouthier

WINNIPEG, Man. — If there was one area that was agreed upon during a panel discussion on the future of technology in the trucking industry it was that no one knew what the future would hold, other than the fact that Millennials would make up a substantial portion of the pie.

During the Manitoba Trucking Association’s (MTA) 85th annual AGM, a pair of panel discussions addressed the future of trucking both from a technology and human resources standpoint. And though there was a consensus that technologies available to the industry are a benefit, there was apprehension to predict what the future would hold.

Confidence in the ability of the younger generation to cope with whatever advancements were on the horizon was strong, and Ryan Mitchell, president of Wildwood Transport, was certain of the change.

“The world is going to be completely different,” Mitchell said, “and what trucking companies and carriers offer to customers is to take what is an incredibly complex industry and try to simplify it and make the shipping process easier.”

Mitchell said business is becoming more automated, something that will continue in the future and result in less face-to-face interaction, and companies must try to find ways to interface with their customers’ technology.

Dylon Hall, a technology and scholarship student who works as a trailer technician for Maxim Truck and Trailer, said new technology was exciting, but proper training was vital.

“Growing up with (technology) certainly helps,” he said. “You look at a computer and you know where to go and run a program.”

It is the new crop of workers, people like Hall, who will change the trucking industry, according to Cindy Harrison, director of human resources for Arnold Bros.

“We have to promote further education for them to grow and develop into the roles that we want them to be in,” Harrison said, “and help them develop the skills that we need in our industry.”

John Wallis, director of training and organizational development for Emergent Biosolutions, agreed, saying Millennials “want to be more collaborative, they don’t really want to participate in a structure that tells them what to do, they want to participate in helping us decide what we should do and help solve problems.”

For Trucking HR Canada executive director Angela Splinter, the changing of the guard from today’s trucking landscape to the next, is going to be significant, and it will be important to ensure the proper transfer of knowledge.

“When we look at knowledge transfer, yes, we have a lot of young people coming in and there are all these new things that are happening,” Splinter said, “but there’s still a lot of corporate knowledge and a lot of corporate history that needs to be maintained and you want to make sure you have ways of passing that on to the younger ones who are coming in.”

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