ATA calls for changes to address driver recruitment

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has put forward a submission to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, highlighting the driver shortages facing the road transport industry and setting out recommendations to both government and industry to address this problem.

One explanation for the lack of available drivers is the wages currently offered by competing industries are far higher than what a heavy vehicle driver would be paid. Mining, specifically in Western Australia and Queensland, offers substantial wages above what a road transport driver can earn.

The universal expectation is that freight task is set to double by 2020, and the rate of driver recruitment will need to increase drastically to avoid severe shortages. The ATA’s submission included recommendations intended to make the industry more attractive for groups who are not typically truck drivers, including women, younger workers and the Indigenous community.

Some of the recommendations in the report include promoting the industry to young school leavers, altering licensing regulations and insurance to be less restrictive for young drivers, and improving the flexibility of working hours to improve the work life balance for potential drivers with family commitments.

The ATA acknowledged that the “image” of the road transport industry was not always conveyed in a positive manner in various media.

The age of drivers was another factor addressed as many heavy vehicle drivers are now approaching retirement age, with new employees required to fill the vacancies created by the retiring drivers. The average age of a truck driver is currently 43 years; higher than the national average for other industries, which is 39 years. A higher average age means that working conditions should be adapted for older workers and forward projections of the proportion of older workers in the industry supports this. The ATA forecasts that nearly half the current workforce will be over 65 by 2026.

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