MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — The trucking industry needs to change its approach drastically if it wants to attract new blood, a group of career and guidance counsellors told the audience at the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) second annual conference on Feb. 16.
It’s no secret the trucking world has an image issue, and that’s what the TTSAO wanted to touch on during this panel. How can the industry fix the image problem it has, appeal to a younger generation, and convince those out of work that the industry provides viable careers?
Panelists including Al Wilson of the Workforce Planning Board, Jacquie Latham, member of the Ontario School Counsellors’ Association, and Alyson Truax with Employment Ontario, all gave advice on what the industry can do to attract potential employees.
Connect with local high schools
First and foremost, if you want to attract younger people, you need to approach them at the high school level, stressed Latham, a high school guidance counsellor.
“We try and promote all pathways: apprenticeship, college, and university,” she said. “So, we’re trying to get information on all those areas so we can help students by providing them with all the opportunities out there. Trucking is something (our students) don’t know a lot about – they don’t really understand the industry. They have a Hollywood version – what they see on movies and TV.”
To change this perspective, Latham said that trucking businesses should start connecting with local high schools close to their offices.
“Go and connect with the high schools in your area and offer your services to the guidance department,” she said. “They run career fairs and are always looking for people to speak to students.”
It’s also worthwhile to attend the Ontario School Counsellors’ Association’s conference in 2017, she added. The conference takes place Nov. 5-7 at the International Plaza hotel in Toronto. More info can be found at www.OSCA.ca.
Ditch the pamphlets
“We don’t have room to store your brochures,” explained Truax, of Employment Ontario, who describes her job as a guidance counsellor for adults. Truax says that pamphlets aren’t effective anymore at describing what a career in trucking looks like. Instead, she suggested the industry try a more modern approach.
“As a millennial, we spend a lot of time on our phones and on Facebook and Instagram,” she said. “I want information to be engaging and I want it to be shareable. I don’t share brochures with my friends.”
Latham agreed, noting other industries have put together websites for their trades where students can learn more.
“There are stories and videos explaining how to get into the industry, what the salaries are, and that makes it easy for the guidance counsellors to give to their students. We don’t need another pamphlet, they get lost. We need websites with updated marketing campaigns to sell trucking as a comprehensive industry,” Latham said.
Truax added videos are an easy way to engage a younger audience, too.
“Videos are great,” she said. “Especially if you can put a young face to your business, we need to put that out there. Plus, social media is free.”
Change your marketing approach
When people enter her office, Truax said they have already made up their mind about joining the trucking industry.
“It’s almost black and white,” she said, adding people either are eager to get into the business or aren’t at all interested.
“And it’s for good reasons,” she said. “Those in favor already recognize the opportunity for longevity, the opportunity to earn a good wage. The other side are people saying I’m crazy and this is because there are barriers and challenges in the industry. The trucking industry is intimidating.”
Truax said many in her office are concerned with a work-life imbalance they could get by joining the trucking industry, so trucking needs to find a way to promote the good and look at having flexible hours for more home time, something many job seekers are looking for.
“People find themselves impoverished for a number of reasons,” she said. “And when you have nothing, the one thing you have is family. And long hours take away from family time.”
To tap into millennials, Wilson, executive director of the Workplace Planning Board, added it’s important to market the positives.
“I look at the industry – I see freedom, I see flexibility in hours, I see travel,” he said. “Those are the things millennials find attractive and want to learn more about.”
However, he said as much as you have to attract millennials, you have to attract their parents too.
“When looking at your marketing strategies, think strongly about the parents too,” he said.