Attracting and retaining the younger generation in fleet was one of the challenges the industry is grappling with according to presentations and conversations on the sidelines at the Fleet Management Conference run earlier this year by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA). Fleet Auto News’ Caroline Falls talks with Robert Wilson, Manager at IPWEA Fleet about the issue.
FAN: How do young people presently come to find work roles in fleet control and management?
Wilson: People find themselves in a fleet role through various pathways. Many come from a trade background, as say a mechanic and work their way up through the workshop, others come from a professional engineering background or administrative roles like procurement or finance.
FAN: Do you have any concern that young people don’t know about roles in the industry?
Wilson: It is probably true to say that kids at school (unless they know someone in fleet) are not aware of the opportunities fleet management presents. For younger people already working in a fleet environment the opportunities may be more obvious.
FAN: Is there anything being done to draw young job seekers to the industry?
Wilson: There are some great examples in local government fleet management where cadetships have been provided for school leavers. This brings together formal and on-the-job learning and the opportunity for the cadet to work in the fleet business.
FAN: Why should we care if young people are entering the industry or not?
Wilson: Fleet management as an industry is of a similar demographic to the rest of society. We have a high proportion of baby boomers working in fleet management and many of these people will move to retirement over the next few years. We need to be succession planning and having skilled and motivated practitioners ready to carry on.
FAN: What is the value that young people can contribute to the industry?
Wilson: Fleet management is moving to a more data driven approach. There is a growing expectation that decisions will be based on information and analysis rather than pure judgement. The industry is also rapidly evolving and fleet managers need to adapt. Many younger people have a natural affinity for information technology, data analysis and technology adoption. It’s a good fit.
FAN: Why do you think fleet management may be a great job for a young person?
Wilson: Fleet management is a great job because of the variety and challenges it provides. Fleet Management by its very nature is a general management skill set requiring an understanding of finance, technical matters, asset management, human relations etc.
FAN: Are there any special issues in managing or retaining young people in the industry?
Wilson: I don’t think the challenges are different in the fleet industry. Employers need to be an employer of choice if they’re going to attract and retain good staff – including young people. This means providing things like; meaningful work, ensuring expectations are clear, recognising good work, supporting professional development and offering flexibility in work arrangements.
FAN: There are degrees in event management. Surely, there should be also degrees, and diplomas available for study to get into such a complex role as fleet management?
Wilson: IPWEA offers a Fleet Management Certificate. This qualification is a self-paced, distance delivered course, supported by live webinars. It focuses on the knowledge and skills individuals need to effectively and efficiently manage a fleet and is recognised in the industry as a practical and worthwhile qualification