Making the case for millennials

by Sonia Straface

TORONTO, Ont. – Millennials get a bad rap.

They’re labelled as lazy, entitled narcissists who are always on their smartphones. But if you want to hire millennials into your business – and you should – you better forget about those stereotypes.

That was the message from David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data, a market research firm at the fifth annual Women with Drive Leadership Summit hosted by Trucking HR Canada.

David Coletto

“Millennials are the most ethnically diverse, most entrepreneurial, most tech-savvy, and the most educated generation ever,” he said. “And it’s the biggest generation. In Canada there are 9.5 million millennials today.”

One common misconception about millennials, who are defined as those born between 1980-2000, is that they want to get hired and promoted immediately, they want to be paid a high salary without putting in their dues, and they care about nothing but their image.

This is untrue, Coletto said. In fact, he said this is a stereotype that’s been perpetuated for years.

“With every new generation, the expectation is so high for the group,” he said. “The most important thing we have to keep in mind is, millennials, women in particular, want the same things out of life and jobs that gen Xers and baby boomers want. They want job security. They want opportunity. The want to feel like they’re making an impact. And we forget that gen Xers and baby boomers want this same thing, but the path (millennials) take to achieve those goals may be different.”

The first step to building relationships with millennials and welcoming them into your company is to leave those biases at the door, Coletto said. He added that sure, there may be some millennials who fit the stereotype, but to color an entire generation with negative attributes is not only unfair, but unproductive in solving the shortage of workers in the trucking industry.

“Every older generation has been described in the exact same negative way by the generations before them,” he reminded the audience. “In the ‘70s the boomers were described as living in the ‘me’ decade. After that, the gen Xers were described as lost and rebelling against traditions.”

Instead of judging the millennial generation, Coletto said, business owners and managers should be focused on how millennials view the trucking industry. Because after all, that’s who needs to step into the roles we need filled.

Coletto’s company together with Trucking HR Canada conducted a national survey of Canadian millennials, and found that in answering the question: is trucking millennial-friendly?, overall it’s a mixed bag.

When it comes to pay, fulfillment, technology innovation, lifestyle, and environmentally friendly, trucking scored low on compared its closest industries, like construction.

On the image side, Coletto said most millennials believe there are lots of jobs in trucking, and they perceive those jobs to be well-paid. On the flip side, they also believe that trucking is too male-dominated, that truck drivers aren’t respected by others, and that those drivers don’t have a healthy work/life balance.

“That’s what this industry needs to overcome,” he said, adding that based on his research, trucking should target specific subsets of millennials.

“Recruiting the next generation of employees is challenging, but there is a group out there who are considering it,” he said. “High school graduates, older millennials looking for a career change, and those who want to work with their hands.”

Overall, he said, trucking needs to change its current approach if it wants to succeed in attracting millennials.

“Ultimately, the industry has to change,” he said. “The way you’ve done things for 20 years is not going to work…There is a lot of opportunity to recruit this generation, and know that there is a generation out there that is not completely closed.”

Have your say

We won't publish or share your data


  • I had the pleasure of listing to this young fellow a couple years ago he certainly chained my way of thinking of how to manage Millennial’s , it was a great presentation i would recommend it for other trucking company’s who may be recruiting or managing millennial’s today

  • truck drivers are third rate emloyees,the employment standards act does not give truck drivers the same rights as other employes such as no overtime,they have to work up to 60 hours a week,and most of them work for employment agencies,that can leave them no rights to get the benifits of the company they really work wonder nobody wants to be a truck driver.

    • Well Michael, your comments are loosely based on misconceptions, yes the hours can be long, but it is the choice of the individual for whom you work for. Employment sgencies may not be the right choice, there is MANY companies that hire directly, and treat the drivers well. I have been a driver for many years and have had the pleasure of working with some great companies and still do.

  • I remember when I first started in trucking in the early 80’s. I was so proud the be a truck driver and the respect I felt was great. I was taken under the wings of the older drivers and they added years to my experience…trucking was truly my calling. I had a good life,health and work balance.
    Today trucking has evolved with technology, mostly all good, for the exception of cameras. Some may argue that it’s all good and have valid points. But, from my perspective the cameras have taken the essence of “freedom of the road “ right out of being out on the open road…total autonomy. You are being watched and listen to the whole time you are out working…constant surveillance and scrutiny. Whether your are a millennial or other, why would one choose to join a profession with that kind of work environment. I don’t think industry has ever empathize in regards of what it is to be a truck driver.