Careers & Training, News

Industry pathway for teens through work experience scheme

High school students from the Southern Downs region in Queensland recently got a glimpse into the world of freight transport with Wickham Freight Lines.

Jeff Miller, national logistics manager at Wickham’s, said their work experience program is a great way for teens to figure out if they might like to pursue a career in the industry.

“We’ve been running this scheme for the last few years, we do a lot of school visits in the local area and we’ve had a very good response,” he said.

“Students will come in to us for a week, they will get a taste of what we do here, they see the nuts and bolts of the industry.

“They can see first-hand whether this is something they want to align their future with, or if they want to try something else.

“Then if they’re interested, they can come back and we can make some more time for them.”

In September, the team welcomed three high school students – Andrew McIlroy, Archer Barrett, and Tameka Carvoth.

“Andrew and Archer both worked in our workshop, where they learned about oil changes, how to put on bumper bars and the importance of regular maintenance of our trucks.

“Archer said that he really enjoyed the experience and learning new mechanical things.

“Andrew said that he was happy to have been able to have this experience and everyone in the team was nice and friendly.”

Both Archer and Andrew want to become qualified heavy vehicle diesel mechanics and are in the running to secure an apprenticeship with Wickham’s.

Meanwhile, Tameka has already been offered a position with Wickham’s, working on weekends and school holidays to continue learning about transport and logistics and follow her dream of becoming a truck driver.

“Tameka has been a ‘Jill of all trades’. She experienced a few areas within the business, from a day in our spare parts department, driving our tugs, to spending a day in the truck with one of our truck drivers, Tammy, to see what it would be like to be on the road as a truck driver.

“She’s already signed on with us and she works when suits her and her parents, we are flexible and make sure the work doesn’t affect their studies. She’s great and really enthusiastic.”

Tameka said: “The Wickham’s team have been great and very encouraging, showing me the different aspects of the operations. The workplace also has a great atmosphere, but my highlight of the week was being able to hook on a road train and having the opportunity to drive it around the yard!”

When asked whether he agreed that it’s a struggle to get young people into the transport industry and keep them there, Miller said that remains to be seen.

“I will say that we have several operators here in their 30s, who started with us when they were teenagers and already have 15 years of service under their belts.

“They started on the wash bay, washing the trailers on the weekend after school. Then they graduated to driving the tugs, got their open licences, B licences. They’ve been trained the right way, they know they can stay in the job and they’re very confident.

“Freight transport is an industry that the country needs, we can’t do without it. It’s important for kids to develop a work ethic, because I think work ethic is something that our country lacks. I might upset people by saying that, but it’s true.

“I would like to see other transport companies taking on the same work experience initiative that we do, to try to develop the industry and encourage more young people to come on board.”

If anyone is interested in work experience or apprenticeships with Wickham’s, they should contact the company on 07 4661 8922.

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