- GSLP Story of Change -
Industry Links focuses on Transport
More than 100 Shepparton Lighthouse Project friends and supporters gathered at a MOVE function room early on Tuesday, December 7, in a sign that networking breakfasts were back on the calendar.
After an informative and moving Welcome to Country from Yorta Yorta Elder Uncle Lance James, guests were given an update on the community support service’s newest project, Pit Stop, aimed at re-engaging young people in meaningful work involving cars, engines and general transport.
Lighthouse executive officer Lisa McKenzie said the past year had been particularly challenging for the organisation.
“It’s been such a big effort this year to get Pit Stop up and running with so many stops and starts,” Ms McKenzie said.
She said the project, based at the Driver Education Centre of Australia in north Shepparton, was a place for young people to connect, meet mentors and role models.
She said youth could undertake basic car maintenance, bicycle repairs and even artwork under supervision.
“If they’re not travelling well academically, it’s a chance to find something that brings them joy and a sense of achievement,” she said.
The breakfast, titled Driving our Future, heard from key people in the Shepparton transport industry and how it was focused on creating career pathways for local young people to help address skills shortages and, at the same time, lift youth aspirations.
MOVE executive officer and former general manager at transport company Kreskas Bros Peter Hill gave context to the discussion by reminding people of the significance of the Shepparton transport industry.
“One in four commercial vehicles in Victoria are registered in Shepparton. A business like Kreskas Bros will this year move the equivalent of 50,000 containers between this region and the Port of Melbourne. In cities like Bendigo or Ballarat there might be 2000 or 3000 containers out of those regional centres,” Mr Hill said.
Jenny Foott from Foott Waste in Shepparton said the transport and waste industries often struggled to attract young people, despite the wide variety of roles it could offer.
“It really is an industry where people can come in for a labouring job, and then they see the trucks and they get the confidence. We’ve got a guy now driving one of our most specialised trucks — and he came in six years ago and started sorting cardboard. We can get people forklift licences, and warehousing skills and logistics certificates,” Ms Foott said.
“We’re building a new $8 million facility two doors up from where we are — because we can see what the future of waste and recycling in this region is going to be,” she said.
Jared Welch from Lighthouse Project breakfast sponsors Burson Auto Parts said initiatives like Pit Stop helped to sew the seeds of a career in the automotive industry in young people’s minds.
“The automotive industry is probably not one of those that are talked about with mum and dad at home. Everyone wants to be a doctor, a nurse or a builder. We’ve got 850 vehicles and 201 stores, but we need to invest in people and communities to help run those stores,” Mr Welch said.
“It is really tough at the moment to find people to come into the automotive industry. So we need to give something back to the kids who are the future, to make sure our industry stays alive and strong,” he said.
Article by John Lewis, supplied with permission of The Shepparton News