Most Tauranga students wouldn't expect their school day to include sitting behind the wheel of a freight truck.

However, students that headed to the Canvas Tauranga Careers Expo got just that.

The two-day event at the Trustpower Arena put on by the Rotary Club of Tauranga and Priority One saw thousands of local students and families visit to dabble in various career options.

Exhibitors were there from sectors ranging from horticulture to law.


Freight and Logistics Action Group used the expo as an opportunity to inform and tempt youth into a career as a truckie.

More than 10 large freight trucks were parked out the back and people were encouraged to have a go at driving the mammoth machines with a qualified trainer.

Emma Sellwood, 25, was having a go behind the wheel when the Bay of Plenty Times visited.

She said she wanted "more power" in her vehicle and after giving the truck a go she was ready to start the application for her heavy vehicle license.

Toi Ohomai staff member Glenn Berridge said the average age of a truck driver was between 55 and 65 and combined with a "critical shortage" in the profession nationwide, getting youngsters interested was important.

He said they were also aiming to get more women into the profession as that was an "untapped market".

There was a perception that it was a physical job involving heavy lifting, but Berridge said it was more mechanical than anything else.

Danya Callender, 19, was a shining star in the sector and already a skilled truck driver.


She said she had loved big trucks since she was a child and had been driving since she did a course at Toi Ohomai when she was 17.

Her advice to anyone wanting to get into the career was to "just go for it".

On Friday, 16 schools from as far afield as Whangamata made the trip to the expo, with more than 3000 students walking the stalls.

The arena also filled up on Saturday with families coming down to check it out.

Sue Boyne, an organiser of the event, said the concept of the expo was to provide options and alternatives for both youth and those ready for a career change.

She said it was all about "community connection" and pushed students a step closer in finding what career they were working towards.