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Peak body calls for consistent training and regulations

National Heavy Haulage shortage of drivers

At a time when skilled truck drivers are becoming rarer, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for consistent licencing and training within the country’s heavy haulage sector.

At a recent Aspects of Road Safety senate inquiry, the ATA highlighted the need for uniform heavy haulage licencing regulations and driver training across all Australian states and territories and heavy haulage driver education providers.

Standard driver training

ATA national manager government relations and policy Bill McKinley said the quality of current driver training and assessment providers is “highly variable”.

“There are many excellent trainers, but others train to a price, or guarantee how long the course will take, regardless of how competent you are at the end of it,” McKinley said.

He added that current truck drivers were particularly concerned with differences in training relating to fatigue management, work health and safety, load restraint and chain of responsibility.

Uniform licencing regulations

As well as standard training requirements, McKinley said Australia required uniform licencing legislation across the country.

“What we need for heavy vehicle driver licencing is a common set of standards that the states or the

NHVR apply. The standards need to be imposed by a body that is responsive to feedback.”

He added that Australian ministers for infrastructure and regional development Darren Chester and Fiona Nash and the education and training minister Christopher Pyne should commission a joint review with the country’s states and territories about training, assessment and licencing arrangements for truck drivers.

“This review should explore including these arrangements within the scope of the Heavy Vehicle National Law for the states that are part of that system,” McKinley added.

All heavy vehicle drivers must hold Australian licence

As part of the ATA’s involvement in the inquiry, the peak body has recommended that all Australian states and territories adopt legislation that requires heavy vehicle drivers in possession of overseas licences to obtain an Australian heavy vehicle licence to legally and safely drive a truck for commercial or occupational purposes within the country.

“In three states at the moment, it’s possible for an overseas licence holder to apply for an Australian drivers licence, go to the driving test, fail, and then keep driving on their overseas licence, even though they just demonstrated conclusively that they are not competent to drive in Australia,” McKinley said.

This is expected to enhance safety and simplify standards within the industry, but with an imminent shortage in qualified truck drivers, sourcing skilled drivers from overseas would not be a quick fix if it is made law.

Anticipated driver shortage

According to Australia’s Transport & Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC), the country’s road transport sector, which includes heavy haulage, is expected to grow substantially throughout the next few years.

With few women and younger people entering the heavy haulage industry, the labour pool has shrunk.

An ageing workforce combined with difficulties attracting younger workers from both genders, it is anticipated a truck driver shortage will result.

Part of the current disincentive to recruitment is the prohibitive costs of training and gaining required licences.

With the ATA calling for consistent training and licencing legislation to assist with appropriately skilling the workforce, it is also imperative that companies in the industry act now to recruit workers to avoid a skills crunch.

National Heavy Haulage is one heavy transport company that has acted to attract the best drivers and personnel in Australia. National Heavy Haulage is an equal opportunity employer and we ensure our team receives the best training and support available. We also encourage career progression and make our people feel valued and empowered.

For the best heavy haulage solutions, speak to one of our experts today: 1300 79 22 49

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