Transport Training Services hosted the first ever Women in Wheels NI event on Sunday 6th March to coincide with International Women’s Day.
The event called Women Driving Change, which was kindly sponsored by Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, offered females of all ages from across Northern Ireland the opportunity to find out about the wide range of career opportunities in the automotive and transport/logistics sectors.
Participants took part in interactive activities, including getting behind the wheel of a truck or bus and getting hands-on with vehicle maintenance demonstrations. The event also had speakers from a broad cross-section of the motor and transport sectors, from truck and bus drivers, vehicle technicians, fleet and transport managers, female business owners and many more. A range of employers were also there to talk about live job opportunities on the day, including Woodside Logistics Group, Translink, Bryson Recycling, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service, DHL Supply Chain, Manpower, Mercedes-Benz Truck & Van, and Donnelly Group.
With more than 120 people through the doors at TTS and 72 getting behind the wheel of a truck or bus, the event was a huge success. As well as practical activities such as vehicle technician demonstrations and vehicle paint technician displays, a range of panel discussions, hosted by Pamela Dennison, ran throughout the day with speakers from a broad cross-section of the sectors being promoted.
In addition to Automotive, Transport & Logistics and HGV Driver panels, a Compliance and Fleet Management panel gave attendees the chance to find out about career possibilities that may be lesser known roles to anyone outside of the industry.
Siofra McClure, Recruitment Co-Ordinator at Woodside Logistics Group had this to say:
“At Woodside Logistics Group, our aim is to continue to build an inclusive culture where all our staff feel welcome and valued. We recognise there is a need to encourage more women into the transport and logistics industry and we are proud to work with partners like Women in Wheels NI to show the opportunities we have for women interested in a career in logistics and build on the progress we have already made.
We were delighted to be a partner at the inaugural Women Driving Change event at the Transport Training Services on Sunday 6th March. The event was a huge success and really highlighted not only the opportunities available for women in the industry but the amount of women in Northern Ireland who want to break down the barriers and start a career in logistics. We are excited to continue our work to drive inclusion and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the industry to provide more opportunities for women.”
Fiona Gallery, HR Officer at Donnelly Group added: “Thank you for such an inspiring day! It was great to meet so many passionate women who are interested in a career the automotive industry. Donnelly Group are very proud to support and work in partnership with such a fantastic event.”
One participant, Zoe McVey, said: “Thank you so much for today. It was so interesting. I really enjoyed the practical aspect too. I am definitely going to do my HGV training. Thanks for helping me decide!”
Another, Stephanie Blain, added: “Great day all round. It has totally inspired me! I have plenty of homework and reading to do…Hopefully I’ll be going forward into the future for something that really interests me.”
And Alex Jay, had this to say: “Absolutely class!…I’ve been struggling a lot lately and today was such an amazing experience. I’m still smiling from my drive in the fire engine! So many lovely people sharing their experiences in various careers has really given me inspiration. Thank you so much to everyone who spent time chatting with me.”
Other comment included: “a new career beckons” and “change of career direction I think”.
With less than 2% of vehicle technicians and large goods vehicle drivers in NI, and just 14% of all UK logistics workers being female, the organisations involved in this event are committed to attracting more women into a range of historically male-dominated careers.
Michael Strain, CEO of TTS, commented: “I have no doubt that many of the women in attendance will go on to take up careers in automotive or transport, having seen the response on the day and the very positive feedback that we have received since. We couldn’t have been more pleased to see the fantastic turn out at the first ever Women in Wheels NI event.”
TTS runs a Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/womeninwheelsni) which now has more than 340 members, a combination of automotive and transport industry professionals and women interested in careers in these sectors.
Due to the success of this inaugural Women in Wheels NI event, TTS hopes to run another one later in the year.