Leading refrigerated logistics company Chill has been given the green light to run a female-only training program for budding truck drivers – one of the first in NSW.
The Sydney-based headquarters has been given an exemption to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, allowing them to advertise and run a female-only trucking training and education program.
Chill lodged the exemption application last year in a bid to lead the charge for women in the transport industry, particularly in light of growing staffing shortages across both the transport and warehouse sectors.
Currently, women make up just 26 per cent of the transport industry in Australia – a figure Chill co-director Lauren Wade is keen to change.
“The days of the stereotypical male ‘truckie’ sitting behind the wheel of a big rig are gone,” Wade said.
“We’ve seen a significant shift in the transport and warehouse industries, particularly in the last few years, courtesy of the ageing workforce and a severe staff shortage.
“It comes at a time when ecommerce and the demand for door-to-door delivery is on the rise, so businesses need to start thinking about a succession plan, with career progression, more family-friendly rosters, and new equipment and procedures.
“Companies across the nation are looking for good-quality, professional truck drivers and warehouse staff and women are critical to filling these positions.
“Being able to run a trucking training program that is solely designed for women means we can attract and retain them into employment and gain some momentum for females in the industry.”
Women in Trucking Australia chief executive officer Lyndal Denny welcomed the announcement.
“We congratulate Chill for setting the standard, for embracing change and for actively developing and implementing strategies to recruit and retain female heavy vehicle drivers,” she said.
“Their commitment to strengthening the pipeline of female talent into this traditionally male-dominated vocation gives aspiring female truckies hope that the tide is starting to turn.”
Chill senior planner Liesel Croukamp, who started her career as a driver and returned to the road during Covid-19, believes truck driving is a fantastic career for women.
“I absolutely love being out on the open road and spending time behind the wheel. It gives me time to think and reflect and I get to meet so many interesting people along the way,” said Croukamp.
“It’s a great career option for people who don’t want to be confined to an office, are deadline and outcome driven, and want something that works in with their lifestyle. As a woman, I love the idea that I’m shifting the gender balance within the industry and empowering other women to sign up and give it a go.”
Chill is now working with industry bodies to get the program up and running. The business will also help support the cost of truck licences for successful candidates.
“These programs have the potential to be rolled-out state-wide, providing a longevity plan for attracting and skilling women in the sector,” added Wade.
“We’d love to see similar businesses follow suit and apply for their own exemption. An industry-wide shift would make significant in-roads in addressing the gender gap in the transport sector, while training drivers at a time when we really need them.”