WA Govt expands heavy vehicle training program

Cue, Lake Austin Causeway, Western Australia.

The Western Australian Government has announced it will roll out its Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations training program to the Kimberley and Pilbara.

Aimed at helping to train local people for local jobs, the expansion, funded as part of the 2023-24 State Budget, is expected to result in more truck drivers, including women and Aboriginal people, hitting the road.

Developed in collaboration with industry to address the truck driver shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian-first program provides theoretical and practical hands-on truck driver training to train job-ready workers for the priority transport industry.

The additional $3.5 million investment in the program will support North Regional TAFE to deliver the training to around 350 participants in the Pilbara and Kimberley over a four-year period, providing employment opportunities for local people living in these regions.

It will also support the economy, including Government civil construction projects, by providing a trained, local heavy vehicle workforce, and address the need for heavy vehicle driver training in the Kimberley and Pilbara.

Run in the metropolitan area from April 2021, and expanded to the South-West and Mid-West over the past two years, the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations program trains new workers and upskills existing workers to combat skills shortages and supports the transport and logistics industry.

Since February 2023, of the 552 participants enrolled at a TAFE college to undertake the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations program, 282 had achieved either a Heavy Rigid, Heavy Combination, or Multi Combination licence.

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

“The McGowan Government’s partnership with industry to deliver this course – the first of its kind in Australia – is helping to create the highly skilled and inclusive workforce needed for a strong, diversified and sustainable economy,” said Western Australia Training Minister Simone McGurk.

“Participants are given practical, hands-on experience, ensuring they’re job-ready when they complete their course, and I’m particularly excited to see so many women taking up the opportunity,” she said.

McGurk was confident the success of the training program would be replicated when it expanded to the Kimberley and Pilbara.

“Our 2023-24 State Budget continues important work towards removing barriers so all Western Australians can gain the skills needed for rewarding careers,” she said.

Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti was encouraged by the strong uptake in the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations course since it began two years ago.

“This expansion will provide a much-needed boost to the transport industry in the Kimberley and Pilbara,” she said.

“With 350 participants expected through the course over the next four years, the McGowan Government is helping to create a pipeline of skilled workers for this essential industry well into the future,” continued Saffioti.

“Supporting economic growth, industry diversification and greater regional engagement, remain our key priorities.”

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