Lyndon Watson, CEO of Don Watson Transport, reckons young interstate driver Jess is a classic example of the opportunities open to new recruits in the industry.
She quickly found that driving semis isn’t the “tough-guy” role she thought it might be and is loving the freedom and flexibility of life behind the wheel can offer.
“She’s still relatively new to Watson’s but she’s doing an awesome job,” said Watson.
“There isn’t a part of the interstate truck driver role that she can’t do easily. This isn’t the tough guy industry like it was back in the 80s.”
Watson believes the key to attracting more youngsters like Jess lies in the industry doing a better job at selling itself to prospective employees while they’re still in high school.
“While they’re still thinking of what they want to do as they’re shooting past Year 8, 9 and 10, we need to get these kids dreaming about becoming a truckie.”
In the last couple of years, Don Watson Transport, which has depots in Victoria, NSW, and Queensland has engaged with local high schools during truck week, giving students an opportunity to visit the company’s HQ on the outskirts of Melbourne.
But Watson would like to see social media playing a bigger part in recruitment.
He’s seen the impact that Instagram influencers have in bringing aboard new recruits in the US and believes a similar approach needs to be adopted here.
“The social media influencers we have in Australia are more of the old guard that are vocal on Twitter, but I’m not sure they’re accessing the younger groups in a persuasive way.
“We need everything sold to them in Year 8 and 9 – and the information given to school career advisors – that being a truck driver is a well-paying professional job that’s open to a broad and diverse range of people.”