2018 Dangerous Goods Symposium speaker LaQuita Donald on training millennials.

LaQuita Donald, CHMM, CDGP, the Environmental & Hazmat Compliance Manager at Motion Industries, Inc., will speak about “Training Millennials” during the 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium, September 5–7, 2018, in Rosemont, Illinois.

You may never talk with anyone who’s more enthusiastic about her role in the Dangerous Goods industry than LaQuita Donald. Yet she’s concerned about finding people to fill those roles in the future.

She asks,

“How do we get people into the industry and excited to learn more? What are the tools that make them more knowledge-ready? You gain those tools through experience and exposure to your area of interest. Millennials are not getting that experience today.”

“I see things other people don’t see.”

Donald cites her own story as an example of how people gain experience and enthusiasm for a career in hazmat.

“I’m a chemist. I started out as a contractor to remediate issues with a Technical Assistance Team (TAT) for the EPA in Region 4, which was way out of my comfort zone. I was crawling under buildings, collecting samples, doing field chemistry, Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) searches, soil testing and air monitoring. I got exposed to so much hazardous waste and hazmat knowledge.

“Now, I see things other people don’t see. As I grew in my career, I used my skills from school to make a full circle with my experience.”

She isn’t sure those opportunities still exist for people entering the workforce today.

“Passion gets ignited once you know what the possibilities are. That’s why you need a variety of experiences. Now I can pull from my previous experience, and that makes it exciting. I want millennials to have those experiences to ensure we have personnel in the pipeline to fill these roles in the future.”

“Millennials are different, so training has to be different.”

Today’s business world is different in many ways from a generation ago—and so are the young people entering it.

“Millennials are different, so training has to be different. Millennials think their career is portable, they believe in working 8 to 5, and they like their time off. But in this business, even when we’re off, we’re on.

“They need different opportunities for hands-on exposure. Internships aren’t designed to develop particular skills. They have to be viable—even if just for the summer—to provide the basis for the next step.

“I take new employees to actual waste pickup sites and have them separate waste. They get to see firsthand how it impacts the whole process. You have to know the right questions to ask to apply the rules. How did I learn that? From working as a TAT member 20 years ago.”

“I want millennials to have that compass.”

When opportunities are life-changing, they fortify your direction—like a compass,” says Donald. “Even if you don’t stay in that field, those experiences add to your knowledge base so you can use them for the next step. I want millennials to have that compass.”

She’s concerned that there’s no pipeline of new Dangerous Goods professionals to replace the current generation when it retires.

“You have to create the environment to give people hands-on opportunities, to create that spark of wanting to know more. It’s difficult to get to where you say ‘I want to be a hazmat hero.’ It’s usually a left turn into the hazmat world.

“Had I not made that first turn, I might still be working as a chemist.”

Read Safety Specialist, powered by Motion Industries, Inc., and follow the company on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

The 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium—September 5–7, 2018

Labelmaster will host the 13th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium September 5–7, 2018, at The Loews Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.

Join us as industry experts and regulators discuss topics and lead workshops that cover everything from training best practices to international and domestic regulatory updates and the latest lithium battery regulations. You’ll never find more DG knowledge or experience in the same place, anywhere.

Labelmaster is a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers. See our full line of solutions at labelmaster.com.

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