More Than A Job: Finding A Future In The Truck Industry
A job versus a career: it’s a long-standing debate whether we can have both at the same time, or one or the other. But regardless of which category it falls into, work that is accompanied by opportunities for active engagement, professional development and the accumulation of relevant experience—a journey, so to speak—will make for a more fulfilling experience than a constant grind of simply going through the motions.
Australian road transport may be an industry built on the back of hard yakka, but it’s also one that creates opportunities, secures future careers, and provides jobs which many call home for decades.
These careers aren’t only found in essential truck driving either, but cover everything from servicing, sales, marketing, business planning, finance and management, to name but a few.
A career doesn’t stop in the garage
An important step towards determining a future career is to look at the potential pathways leading from what may initially be perceived as a ground zero job.
In the automotive sector, a common misconception is that a career starts and finishes in a garage somewhere. This is far from the truth. The service arms of the automotive industry—and the many various positions within them—all play a huge role in the overall success of any auto business as well as the broader industry.
Transport is essential… and so are the people
Australia’s automotive sector is a major contributor the nation’s economy, accounting for approximately $37 billion to the federal wallet: from major freight and logistics companies connected to primary industries, through to last-mile delivery and small trade services.
It is also one of the largest manufacturing industries in Australia, with thousands of people directly employed by local manufacturers, importers and thousands of related local component manufacturers.
A high percentage of manufacturers and associated automotive companies engage in a vocational training system, or support training programs in direct response to skills requirements—which also helps in giving young workers and apprentices a leg-up.
It’s safe to say that wherever there’s a truck (and there’s more than a few on our roads), there are multiple opportunities to be found for a successful career.
The service pathway
Servicing specialists and technicians are in hot demand, in line with the pressure on Australia’s truck industry as an essential service. Locally, it’s estimated that up to 19,000 trained techs are needed to support the industry, with fault diagnosis in particular demand. Some other popular positions in the service field include:
- Service technicians and engineering management
- Diesel/ heavy machinery mechanics
- Technical analysts
- Automotive electricians
- Parts interpreters and parts management
- Service and business management
- State/regional and national service management
Work your way up
Isuzu Australia Limited’s (IAL) Engineering Support Manager, Jeff Gibson, is a bloke who has walked the service career pathway from the very beginning.
Jeff started his working life as an eager twelve year-old in his father’s workshop, and eventually graduated from his official apprenticeship into a local car dealership during his late teens.
From there, it was a steady ride through different workshops across NSW to gain experience across many different types of vehicles, all the way from V8 Supercars to heavy-duty prime movers. Jeff later landed himself a job as the Warranty and Service Support Manager of a major truck brand.
Start small, think big
He worked his way progressively up the ranks, securing a job as Engineering Support Manager. From there, Jeff continued a journey through management before landing in IAL’s Engineering and Product Development team.
“After landing the role as Warranty and Service Support Manager in 2005, the company I worked for needed some engineering support, so I upskilled and did my engineering certificates to become the Engineering Support Manager,” Jeff said.
“I then got the opportunity to work in sales engineering and technical support and now I’ve landed a role as the Engineering Support Manager at Isuzu Trucks.”
Stories like Jeff’s are familiar in the automotive sector, with many of Australia’s well-known brands promoting former technicians into management roles.
For Jeff, engineering support is now where his passion lies, but he notes there are pathways open for those with a foundation of skills, industry knowledge and general awareness of how things work on the ground.
“Working with vehicles, specifically trucks, is a career that I would recommend to anyone, especially those looking for a secure and optimistic career pathway in a constantly evolving industry,” Jeff said.
The winning team
As state and federal governments continue to invest heavily in infrastructure and construction projects, the demand for capital equipment increases. It’s good news for workers in the trucking and related industries and those eyeing off a future career in equipment service and repair.
Especially promising is the announcement in the 2020 Federal Budget subsidising apprentice wages for employers, kicking off what could be a new era for skilled workers in Australia.
The truck industry is in a state of constant evolution and is often the first of many industries to uptake new technology to create a better product for customers. And when products change, servicing skills and related jobs change with it.
There are always new skills to learn, new technology, and new information to grasp, and like many in the automotive servicing sector would agree, it’s an industry that keeps on giving, from the shop floor to the engineering design studio.
Did you know there’s around 11 million tonne kilometres of dangerous goods moved throughout Australia each year? Read more here!