Features & Interviews

Back to the classroom: How transport firms promote the industry in schools

27 October 2022 #Features & Interviews

In an era of driver shortages and staff vacancies more generally, it is more important than ever that transport firms maintain strong connections with their local schools, who are educating the workforce of the future.

Road transport firms have traditionally played an important role in raising the profile of the CV sector in schools – be it talking to pupils about the huge range of jobs available, demonstrating the latest technology, or imparting vital road safety messages, with the potential of sparking a child’s interest in the industry for life.

Earlier this year a team from Whistl UK, the transport firm with a large depot in Bolton, met with 200 Year Eight students from St James’s Church of England High School in the town to discuss career planning.

As part of the company’s Whistl Stop Tour Careers programme, the day covered topics such as career plans at school, employability skills and career paths, as well as the history of Whistl, its role in the industry and current job roles that are available.

The initiative was part of the GM Careers and Enterprise Network, which aims to ensure young people have at least one meaningful encounter with an employer or experience of the world of work during each year that they are in compulsory education.

“It was great to speak to the pupils and give them an insight in the different jobs available,” said Louise O’Neil, HR Business Partner at Whistl, who has been working with the school for more than four years.

“I didn’t know my job role existed when I was at school. We had some really great questions from the pupils. The most popular question from the student was ‘how much do you earn?

“The teachers tell me that they take much more notice of employers than teachers when discussing career choices and different pathways.”

Staff from Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealership Sparshatt Truck & Van recently attended an Inspiration Day at nearby Fulston Manor School in Sittingbourne, Kent.

The visit came as part of the school’s Festival of Learning Week and the day was designed to teach students about the world of work and to encourage them to think about different career paths.

Harry Deverill, Trainee Group Technical Specialist, was on hand to tell students all about working for the company, along with Sarah Collyer, Head of Marketing, and Joanne Jackson, Group HR Manager.

Sparshatt’s team was keen to explain the full range of job roles within the commercial vehicle industry including sales, marketing, product design, finance and HR, as well as its three-year apprenticeship scheme.

The company provided students with hi-vis vests, Mercedes sunglassses and brought an Actros L truck into the school’s carpark.

Not only were the students able to climb into the truck’s cab and sit behind the wheel, but they also got to learn about the safety features and general overview of the vehicle including new technology inside the cab to enhance the driver experience and efficiency.

Deverill, who has completed Sparshatt Truck & Van’s apprenticeship scheme said: “It was great being able to talk to the students about what we do at Sparshatt Truck & Van.

“Having completed the apprenticeship course, it was a great opportunity to get young people interested in what we do and what an important sector the commercial vehicle industry is to keep our shop shelves full and our economy moving.

“Mercedes offer advanced vehicle safety measures with each vehicle and it was a great opportunity to share these with students and show the advanced technology that comes with a truck.”

Meanwhile, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire-based cold storage and transport business Reed Boardall has been helping local pupils learn more about how their food gets from ‘farm to fork’.

Stevland Town, currently managing director of Reed Boardall’s transport division, talked to about 30 three to five-year-olds at Boroughbridge Primary School about how almost all the food the children eat at home has been carried on a truck and that each company vehicle delivers enough food to fill 400 cars each time it goes to a depot or supermarket.

Reed Boardall employs 800 staff at its single site in Boroughbridge.

Town said: “As a local business, we believe it’s vital that we give back to the local community whenever we can, particularly as so many of the children’s parents work at our Boroughbridge site either in the warehouse or as drivers and, indeed, we’re currently recruiting for many more.

“As a former pupil myself, I was particularly pleased to be able to help the children’s learning by explaining more about how their food makes its journey from farm to food processor and on to the supermarkets before it reaches their table.”

A safety team from Tiger Trailers has visited several schools across Cheshire in 2022, promoting its ‘Stop Look Be Seen’ school road safety programme, featuring Tiger Ted mascot, a liveried Volvo truck and a curtainsider trailer.

This included St. Joseph’s R.C. Primary School in Winsford, where about 90 children were shown where the blind spots are on a vehicle and on how to cross the road in front of a lorry safely by stopping, looking, listening and making eye contact with the driver before doing so.

The importance of wearing visible, reflective clothing, and of remaining free from distractions such as mobile phones, was also included in the sessions at St. Joseph’s.

As part of its national lorry week held every October, representatives from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) travel across the UK in a specially liveried DAF XG, meeting with schools and colleges to champion the industry.

Last year, after visiting Gloucestershire-based haulier The Cullimore Group, the truck went to nearby Whitminster Endowed Church of England Primary School, where pupils were taught about road safety and the country’s shortage of drivers.

Moreton Cullimore, MD at Cullimore Group said: “To have the truck visit the local school and give the pupils a chance to learn about our industry and how drivers stay safe when making deliveries was a great experience for them.”

In an era of driver shortages and staff vacancies more generally, it is more important than ever that transport firms maintain strong connections with their local schools, who are educating the workforce of the future.


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