Employer of Choice – Midcoast Trucks

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what kind of business Midcoast Trucks is?
My name is Vanessa Hickey and I am the HR Manager for Midcoast Trucks. We are mainly retail, operating as a new and used truck dealer – we are the North Coast Isuzu truck dealer as well as a Scania truck dealer. We have other arms of the business as well, including vehicle servicing, truck body fabrication, and new and after-market parts sales. We are a one stop shop for everything trucks!

How many people do you employ and how many young people?
We have 28 young people on staff – our total staff is soon to be 125 all up. We are short on mechanics, detailers (entry level position), and painters.


What kind of roles are there in your business for young people?
Preppers – for paint shops, apprenticeships – mechanics, body makers, auto electrician, spare parts apprenticeships.

What are some of the good things about employing young people?
They are a blank canvas – you can teach them from scratch because they don’t have preconceived ideas. We have a good crew, and a dedicated trainer for the mechanical side of things.

What are some of the challenges?
They don’t really know what they want to do, so they tend to change their minds a lot. Some want to start at the top and work backwards with the commensurate pay. There’s also a problem with phone addictions – it’s a WHS issue: they need to be paying attention.

What have you learned about employing young people?
We know what we look for in a young person now – we have a pre-work experience interview where we ask about their intentions and interests. We have learned that kids coming off farms have often been exposed to good work ethics and have had experience in machines; the kids who have worked at McDonalds are often good hires because they have great induction programs. We look at their resume and consider previous employment as an advantage because it tells us they are motivated to work.

What is some advice you could give another employer who would like to employ young people in their business?
Determine exactly what you expect from the young person and be straight up from day one. Explain that this will be a 4-year commitment (if they are commencing an apprenticeship) and that we expect the basics – turn up on time, participate, ask questions. We have a 6-month probation – at the 3 month mark we assess and check in, make sure everything is going ok. It’s also important to be patient and appreciate the diversity of personality and styles. Our workplace can be intimidating for young people and we need to remember that.

Do you participate in Work Experience or work placement? Do you offer apprenticeships or SBATs?
We participate with all the schools, they come to us – mostly for hands on placements. If someone does well, we may encourage those young people to take on apprenticeships – it’s an opportunity for them to shine. We have a school-based apprentice in mechanics this year – he works with us 2 days a week and works in school holidays as well. We have an option to do on the job training or training with TAFE NSW – it really depends upon the person.

For more information on support for business, visit our Business Support Hub.

If you know a young person who is having a hard time, you can refer them to:

Kids Support Line: 1800 55 1800
Lifeline: 131114


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