Driver training program achieves milestone

The recent completion of the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations Skill Set program in Western Australia has resulted in employment for its 230 graduates.

The $6.1 million program funded by the State Government was developed in collaboration with industry in response to a shortage of truck drivers magnified during the COVID-19 circumstances.

Regarded as an Australian-first program, it provided theoretical and practical hands-on truck driver training at the state-of-the-art Driver Risk Management facility located near Perth Airport.

Since the program began in April last year, 232 graduates of the program have gained employment following their completion, with more set to secure employment in the transport and logistics industry this month as they receive their licences.

Significantly, around 30 per cent of participants in the course have been women, when compared to female representation among truck drivers in WA being of less than four per cent.

The six-week metropolitan course is available through Central Regional and South Regional TAFEs – in collaboration with industry – and is free for eligible participants.

Due to the critical program’s success, the course has been expanded to regional areas with a ten-week program now running in the Southwest.

Free for eligible students, the Practical Driving Instruction Training and Assessment and licencing costs are $500 for concession students and up to $1,250 for non-concession students.

The program aims to train 500 new workers in Heavy Rigid (HR) licences and upskill 500 existing workers from HR licences to Heavy Combination and/or Multi-Combination licences, to combat skills shortages and support the transport and logistics industry.

In 2020, the Western Roads Federation along with the Transport Workers’ Union approached the Premier, the Minister for Education and Training, and the Minister for Transport asking for a dedicated training course for truck drivers.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the program had already exceeded expectations.

“It is an excellent example of collaboration with industry to help match jobseekers looking to boost their employability with an industry in need of skilled workers,” she said.

“Participants are mentored and supported on the path to employment, connecting them to industry employers that are looking for workers before they’ve even completed their training,” said Saffioti.

The program, according to Western Roads Federation CEO Cam Dumesny, has provided a much-needed boost to the transport industry.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the WA Government’s support of our essential industry – because the only thing we don’t deliver are babies,” he said.

“We’re seeing a strong interest from women wanting to join the industry and the trend is very welcome news, as so many employers are keen to employ more female drivers because of the different skills and positive attributes they bring.”

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations Skill Set is a fantastic example of how the Western Australian Government is working with industries with skills shortages to train the job-ready workers.

“Its success in producing more than 230 workers for the transport and logistics, civil construction, and mining industries since it was launched last year further highlights our Government’s commitment to supporting industries to meet critical workforce needs,” she said.

“This program provides participants with real hands-on experience and practical hours in heavy haulage to help them become job-ready, and get more skilled drivers on our roads,” said Ellery.

“It’s also great to see such a high number of women taking part and those delivering the course supporting more women into an occupation that has traditionally had very low numbers of them.”

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