Nationwide border closures paired with an increased demand for medical supplies, e-commerce deliveries and online food shops has pushed the transport industry to its limits.
Nearly two years on from the earliest utterances of the pandemic, the cracks are starting to show and they run deeper than ever before.
According to the Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee’s Skills Forecast, more than 80 per cent of employers noted skills shortages for heavy vehicle drivers and general drivers.
What’s more, Infrastructure Australia’s first Infrastructure Market Capacity report revealed the demand for skills among transport, utilities and building infrastructure sectors is 48 per cent higher than supply.
However, meeting this demand would require annual growth of 25 per cent over the next two years – more than eight times higher than the projected annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent.
With companies desperate to fill roles and make Australia’s transport industry run as efficiently as it once did, industry leaders have ramped up their hiring efforts.
In fact, HireVue’s hiring data shows that the number of interviews conducted by the transport industry in November increased by a colossal 201.9 per cent – higher than any other vertical. The boom in interviews reflects an urgent need to attract and retain talent within the industry.
Breathing new life into the transport industry
The transport industry encompasses roles that span road, rail and sky and neither one component could work without the other.
According to the Australian Industry Standards’ Transport and Logistics outlook, the average age of a trucking industry worker and train driver is 47 and 48-years-old, respectively. Without new life, new ideas and new skills being brought into the industry, innovations will slow down and the effects will be felt across the wider industry as a result.
This is not to say that there must be more workers in their 20s than in their 40s – on the contrary – the sweet spot for an optimum working environment is diversity. Not only diversity of age, but also of gender, culture, race and neurology.
Diversity is the best problem solver as it makes knowledge from all walks of life accessible in a work setting. The more diverse a company is, the better at problem solving it will become, and the more successful the company becomes, the better quality of talent it will attract – and the cycle continues.
Paving the way for the next generation
Scott Morrison’s announcement that the Australian government will offer a new national driver apprenticeship to young people will go a long way to help combat problems within the ageing and overstretched trucking workforce.
By offering the opportunity for young Australians to gain qualifications and forge a highly regarded career at a low cost and without a need to take the higher education route, the industry will undoubtedly reap the benefits in the long term.
In addition to the government’s initiative to close the skills gap for truckies, industry leaders are taking matters into their own hands to ensure their companies continue to attract the best new talent, with LINX Cargo Care Group recently launching a pilot program, LINX FastTrax, to upskill up to 30 young people in the NSW Hunter Region.
How to bridge the gap in 2022
One of the biggest hurdles in the transport industry in 2022 will be attracting Gen Z talent to diversify teams. The first step to attracting them however, is knowing where to find them in the first place.
Gen Z is the first generation considered to be ‘digital natives’. They grew up on social media and blend the digital and physical worlds like never before. As a result, Gen-Zers now expect more and more advanced uses of technology from the organisations they build relationships with — especially their employers.
Successful businesses will need to master the digital experience by implementing tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and workflow platforms to keep up with an increasingly tech-savvy workforce.
Hiring leaders should also prioritise a digital-first model even after the pandemic ends by incorporating HR tech such as games-based assessments to ensure an unbiased hiring process.
As we shift to hybrid-remote working on a more permanent basis, virtual hiring will remain crucial to the recruitment process and tech will be critical to the decision making process.
While interviews are booming in the transport industry, filling the gaps with the right talent will come down to businesses and the government working together to educate the next generation of transport workers.
By creating opportunities to diversify teams, attract the next generation and harness technology to meet candidates where they are, the transport sector will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, and ready to take on the world.