Pushing the Envelope

Australia Post operates the largest delivery network in the nation. Courtney Sertdemir is the Talent Acquisition Manager for the Australia Post and StarTrack brands.

In her role as a talent acquisition specialist at Australia Post, Courtney Sertdemir believes that there is a job for everyone and that by removing barriers to the recruitment process, everyone is presented with a fair opportunity.

Courtney is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and works in recruiting for operational roles in transport for both Australia Post and StarTrack and is passionate about increasing female representation in industry, as well as helping those with a disability find a fulfilling career in which they are properly supported.

PRIME MOVER: Skilled drivers are currently a resource in high demand but short on supply. Does that present challenges?

COURTNEY SERTDEMIR: Absolutely. Skilled drivers have always been tough to find even before the challenges of the pandemic and the low unemployment rate that we’re facing into right now. We saw a huge increase in parcel volumes during the pandemic and thankfully, we were able to safely bring in additional people to help us process and deliver Christmas-like parcel volumes from the middle of the year. We know the way people shop online has changed and parcel volumes remain high, so we’re always thinking ahead about how we can best attract the talent out there to help us deliver and transport items across the country.

PM: What are some of the other changes in the labour landscape?
CS: With the low unemployment rate, it’s safe to say there are fewer people out there looking for work at the moment and those who are, are carefully considering their options. I’ve been in recruitment roles for more than ten years and now is a really interesting time. In generations past, like my parents’, once you got a job it was a job for life. You rarely moved to another organisation and you waited to be tapped on the shoulder for any promotion. Now, it’s almost normal for people to be in a job for as little as 6-8 months. Casual workers will often move on if they’re offered a permanent position and people working a low amount of hours are likely to take a role elsewhere if it will offer them more hours.

PM: Is Australia Post somewhere where people want to stay?
CS: Definitely! We have hundreds of team members celebrating service milestones right across our organisation, including 24 team members celebrating their 40 years this month. We’re an iconic Australian brand – but much more than that, we make a really positive impact on communities right across Australia, and I think that’s what people connect with most. Team members often say it feels like we’re one big family.

PM: Is there a difference between staffing requirements for the two brands?
CS: The roles can be quite different. The Australia Post vehicles tend to be heavier and many of the drivers we are looking to recruit will need to have a higher licence class. The StarTrack trucks are typically smaller and require Light Rigid and Medium Rigid credentials. More than anything, we’re looking for people who are passionate about joining our team.

PM: Are there ways to encourage young people to make truck driving a first choice as a career?
CS: I think it needs to be shown as a career option from a young age and presented as something that’s just as important as everything else. It’s great to see this already happening with some high schools who have introduced the transport and logistics industries to students as a potential career pathway, and we’re making sure we’re part of this by being present at school career events and expos, and through working with some key early careers partners.

PM: As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion yourself, does the overall industry accommodate inclusiveness?
CS: There has been a huge shift towards inclusivity in the transport industry, and I believe we do it well at Australia Post and StarTrack. As a business, we want our entire workforce to represent the communities we’re a part of. We’re very supportive and encouraging of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTIQA+ team members, gender diversity and people living and working with a disability and we have diversity and inclusion programs to help us. We strive to provide opportunities to everyone and we work hard to remove any barriers to work or career progression and I’m really proud to be a part of that.

PM: Does vehicle technology play a part?
CS: Australia Post and StarTrack are strong adopters of the latest truck technology, including electric vehicles, and we operate driver and forward facing in-cab cameras in its heavy vehicles. We often run trials of new technologies, and some of our trucks, such as the latest Euro VI Volvo prime movers, are equipped with telematics that help us ensure our people are safe.

PM: Are you involved in filling ancillary roles?
CS: My team specifically looks after drivers and freight handlers for Australia Post and StarTrack, but we have a number of recruitment teams.

PM: How did you get into recruiting?
CS: Initially, I started in recruitment at a retail company that operated well-known fashion store chains. It was actually an Australia Post ad campaign that peaked my interest in transport and I just liked what I saw in terms of the value proposition and reputation for being inclusive.

PM: Other than pay and conditions, what sort of advantages do Australia Post drivers enjoy?
CS: When you think about the transport industry, it can be quite isolating for drivers who are away from home for long periods of time. Australia Post has a strong focus on mental health to support our drivers, we’re a founding member of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, and we work with R U OK? and Beyond Blue too. We’re also fortunate that many of our linehaul drivers are often able to return home every day and they work regularly face-to-face with customers and get to connect with their colleagues. There’s an opportunity to really feel part of a team and to work with a great bunch of likeminded people.

PM: Is the general perception of the road transport industry changing?
CS: I think it is. The industry has traditionally been thought of as being very male dominated, but the landscape is changing and has, in fact, already changed and I’m really proud to be part of a business championing that. We saw the importance of the industry during the pandemic with all the related challenges we experienced in the supply chain, so I hope the public focus on the industry continues to grow and that these careers will be thought of in the same way as those that come out of university, TAFE or a trade apprenticeship.

PM: Are there changes to the system which can assist?
CS: Driver apprenticeship programs are starting to gain some traction in the recruitment world, and I think these would be such an important way to support younger people to find careers. In our business we see drivers or freight handlers go on to be supervisors or managers. They can move across to a different area of the business to perform entirely different roles. I like the fact that we can encourage internal opportunities to help people grow their experiences and careers in directions they might not have imagined.

Australia Post new Volvo prime movers.
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