The male-dominated trucking environment is changing as women are given the necessary skills, opportunities and encouragement to enter this exciting industry.
Isuzu Truck South Africa, together with Training Transport Academy, has developed a learnership programme that equips women with a comprehensive knowledge of the business of trucking. Graduates hold the recognised National Certificate: Professional Driving qualification accredited by the Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA).
Of the 58 applicants for the first intake in February 2016, five were selected. According to Isuzu, six months into the 12-month course the programme has begun to yield a new breed of truck drivers armed with extensive knowledge of not just the art of driving, but in-depth expertise on the logistics of the industry.
New faces in trucking
Neziswa was born and raised in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. She is a mother of one. Whilst working at a local grocery store, she for the first time saw a female truck driver deliver goods to the store and was filled with admiration that a woman could take on a traditional male role.
She says: “It was at this moment I knew that my gender was the least factor to hold me back from what I had wanted to pursue. Determination, perseverance and encouragement were adequate for me to bolt in headlong into a predominantly male industry and join men in the trucking business.”
Neziswa says that she would encourage other women to pursue any career that their hearts desire.
“Sadly, being in the industry, I was also met with a lot of resentment from our male counterparts, who concluded that taking on a career in the trucking industry was an act of defiance to men and that women only wanted to take on their jobs.”
She points out that she has gained immense confidence during the course, attributing it in particular to the communication and self-development classes offered as part of the learnership.
Whilst once considering the changing of tyres to be a mammoth task, she now tackles it with ease. “My aim is to be a role model to my daughter and to give her encouragement that being a woman should not deter you from any career ambitions you may have. Isuzu Truck has changed my life and I aim to grow only better from now on,” she concludes.
Growing up in Grasmere, Westonaria, Gauteng, Daphney’s father set an unshakable rule that his daughter should never take the seat behind a steering wheel.
Defying her father and aided by a neighbour, Daphney took stolen moments to learn how to drive, earning herself a Code 10 licence.
She later met an old acquaintance, who encouraged her to take on the Isuzu Truck course.
Despite facing much stigma, Daphney, who has three children, pursued her dream and took part in the Isuzu Truck course.
She says: “I am grateful to Isuzu Truck for opening a platform that allows women like me to take on jobs that they have always dreamt of. I’ve always wanted to drive long distances and see the rest of Africa from a truck.
“I do not believe that there are jobs that women are incapable of doing and are solely designed for men. I want to be the one who tears down all walls of stigma that discourage women from living their full potential,” she says.
Daphney praised the course for empowering her in communication, self development, finance, HIV and Aids, and administration skills over and above the driving course.
After five years she plans to open her own courier and trucking company, but for now she’s aiming to tackle the stigma of women in male-dominated industries, one truck at a time.
Cynthia, a mother of three, leads her St Johns Apostolic Church congregation in Sebokeng, Vanderbijlpark, as a pastor.
Her truck driver husband encouraged her to take on the course. She was initially afraid of the big trucks when she witnessed them at a petrol station where she worked, and she was also discouraged by her friends to take on an unattractive job in trucking in favour of a job in the office.
Cynthia’s husband reassured her to remain focused on her dream of eventually co-owning their own trucking business – also, he does not believe in any negative ideas associated with women driving trucks, dismissing them as preposterous.
“The course is set to empower women to understand the trucking business in its entirety. Course content consists of various subjects, with a 30% theory and 70% practical component.
“I do not believe that there are jobs set aside for women; if nothing else, women are just as hardworking as men. The industry can also benefit from having gentle women who will take care of their assets in a gentle manner.
“I would like to see women take up positions in construction, mining and crane lifting, and remove any barriers that prevent them from taking roles set for me. Understanding the fundamental aspects of running a trucking business is crucial to me as I would like to instil the knowledge into the business I intend to run with my husband,” she says.