Young parking professionals need to talk to one another to develop new opportunities, reach out to other sectors, improve their career prospects and identify new markets. These were recurring themes at the inaugural meeting of the Young Parking & Mobility Professionals (YPMP) group at JustPark’s head office in London last month.
The new group is the brainchild of Ninh Hao, senior business development manager at JustPark. She urged fellow young professionals attending the meeting to “take a step back, and integrate parking within the wider mobility picture”. It is vital that those working in parking recognise the key part it has to play in the future of mobility, said Hao.
“Parking is a small industry and it is easy for us to think the pie is only so big and competition is fierce. But there is a revolution coming in MaaS [mobility as a service] and integrated smart cities, and what we are doing in parking now is not what we will be doing in the future. So, that is why I think we need to come together and collaborate now.”
Hao feels that professionals from rival businesses can forge this spirit of collaboration while competing against each other “in a friendly way”. One of the aims of the group is to help young professionals to see the viability of a longer-term career in parking.
“We need to look at how the group can change the perception of parking,” she said. “It’s an industry with a lot of young people and a lot of new innovations coming out. People don’t see it that way, and I don’t just mean the end consumer – the driver – but also venture capitalists. How can we attract more funding? How can we make parking sexy?”
Hao said she was open to suggestions for a different name for the group. “It you have suggestions for a snazzier name please let me know.” She suggests that the group meets four times a year, with each gathering hosted by a different firm. “I want the group to be member-led. Help us define the group with your suggestions.”
Voice of experience
The inaugural meeting was addressed by Richard Harris, director of Real ITS Global, who has worked in the intelligent transport sector for 45 years. Parking should no longer be seen as what happens at the end of a journey, said Harris. “Parking should be seen as an intermediate point where you can change to a different mode for the local area. This is the opportunity that you people have got in the future. Don’t just think of it as people parking their car and leaving it. Think of it as a step in the journey for the first and last mile using rental bikes, e-scooters and driverless shuttle buses.”
But behaviour change will only happen if mobility service providers are able to build trust, he stated. “One of the changes MaaS (Mobility as a Service) will bring is to create interchanges in new places. At the moment the interchange is at rail stations, bus stations, bus stops, metros and the underground. That is going to change.” He cited the Transferium at Dutch football club Ajax’s Amsterdam Arena stadium. “This is a mega park & ride offering a new interchange point for services in and out of Amsterdam.”
The group also heard how the British Parking Association (BPA) is planning to launch a mentor scheme next year. The BPA’s professional development manager, Sarah Feeley, said: “We are looking at between six and ten mentees in the first year. The advice we have been given by organisations that have experience of doing this is start small, grow gradually and work through the issues as they come up, as they inevitably will.”
She said that participants would need a clear idea of what they are seeking from the scheme. “We want to make sure people are matched with the right mentors. We will be going out to our membership shortly to ask if they are interested in taking part. There will be volunteers at the end of their careers who have been very successful and are very knowledgeable, who will want to give something back to young people at the start of their careers in the parking sector.”
JustPark’s talent acquisition manager Hannah Gibson reflected on how career aspirations have changed for the groups referred to as Generation Y (also known as Millennials) – people born from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s – and Generation Z, born after 1995. “These people are career multi-taskers, with 43% of Millennials no longer working with one organisation” said Gibson. Their attitude is different to previous generations as they will not feel beholden to an employer, but will “see themselves as working with a business to help it achieve its goal as well as their own personal goals”.
The top concern for Millennials is the environment and this shapes their goals, said Gibson. “They have grown up in a world where information is made available to them, and they expect transparency at work. They are looking to grow, career progression and developing new skills.”
Young parking professionals have a key role to play in changing company culture, increasing productivity and transforming the industry, she said. Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are not looking for “ping pong and beer in the workplace”.
Gibson concluded: “So, as a business, you have to make sure you genuinely offer people the opportunity to have a positive impact on the world to align with their personal values.”
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