The announcement of a joint initiative, to be called ‘Future Ready’, sees some big players on board to build a trucking apprenticeship program. NatRoad, Paccar and the Paccar Dealer Network have teamed up to drive this scheme forward to improve the number and quality of the people joining the trucking industry.
“We’ve sat together as a group to address the looming driver shortage,” said Warren Clark, NatRoad CEO, speaking at the scheme’s launch at the recent NatRoad Conference. “We believe, together, we have come across a program which will actually work. There have been many band-aid attempts at it, but this project gets industry backing, so industry has got skin in the game on it. Our next step is the government, and then business and the insurance industry can all pull together.
With less than 15 per cent of truck drivers under the age of 30, and the road freight task set to double by 2030, it’s no surprise that the industry is concerned about the looming driver shortage in Australia. In an industry first, road transport operators and business have partnered to address the national skills shortage.
“For too long the complaint around the NatRoad boardroom has been the lack of drivers,” said Scott Davidson from QMC Logistics. “We haven’t been able to address it, and the challenge to us as operators is how do we change that.
“One of my fellow board members told me he employed a fellow with a Cert ll in logistics and everything looked good, but he couldn’t drive a truck, There’s a lot of training going on in the space and they don’t actually produce truck drivers. All of the training courses haven’t effected the shortage of drivers.
“The other problem is perception. A child can go home in year 11 and say they want to be an apprentice baker or plumber, but there is no apprenticeship to be a truck driver. We need to take the conversation back into the living room and make the task of truck driving a trade certified recognised vocation.
“The government don’t recognise transport and truck driving as a skills need. We need to change that conversation. We need there to be a conversation about competency based training. We have a restriction where we need to have them at 25 years old to get insured without huge penalties and yet a 15 year old can go and learn to fly a fixed wing plane, because it is competency-based training.”
The program is now in its planning stage, but the plan is for the program to be up and running with people starting to go through the process in twelve months time. This is a tough timeline to keep but optimism is high in the team working to get the scheme up.
Organisations like NatRoad wouldn’t get to be able to present the kind of program it is proposing without the kind of funding Paccar and the Paccar Dealer Network are putting up for this project. Government want to see industry is behind it.
The funding will deliver research into the current position, developing educational programs, working on its structure and finding partners to deliver the training. The plan is to take the finished product to government within the next six months.
“I was delighted when NatRoad approached Paccar and the Paccar Dealer Network as a partner in this program,” said Tony Hurley, Group General Sales Manager, Brown & Hurley. “It just makes sense. This issue is nationwide and needs to be dealt with by all sectors of the road transport industry which NatRoad and ourselves are well placed to do.”