With 22 women having already completed the female driver training program being run by Hanson and Alex Fraser, and a further 12 set to start their training in May, there are now plans to ramp things up even further.
The two businesses first ran their Women Driving Transport Careers (WDTC) program in November 2018 – with the aim of attracting drivers from a new talent pool. A free, four-week intensive driver training program was offered to women holding a regular car license, to train them up as heavy rigid drivers – with full time employment as trainee concrete agitator and tandem tipper drivers offered at the conclusion. Seven women graduated from that initial course.
Hanson repeated the program in April 2021 at Warrnambool, training three women as agitator drivers for a wind farm project. Then another course was run in November 2021 in metro Melbourne for 12 concrete agitator and tipper driver trainees.
One of the candidates in the most recent intake already held a HR licence and was able to graduate with her HC. As a result, she went straight into tipper truck and trailer work.
The program has attracted women from a wide range of industries – including everything from administration, retail, defence, customer service, and health and beauty.
Developed under a partnership with Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL), Volvo Group Australia and Wodonga TAFE’s Transport Division DECA; the program aims too attract more women into the transport industry.
The training is based on the Wodonga TAFE/DECA Superior Heavy Vehicle Licensing course (a Certificate III course) and combines classroom and practical driver training.
With Hanson and Alex Fraser both experiencing driver shortages throughout their operations, the companies will this year run the course in May and then again in August.
“Some women in the initial course in 2018 are still with us; and some of the new trainees are in their first six months of employment. We put them with a buddy driver at first for as long as they need before they go solo. Some pick it up straight away and others take a few months,” said Jeff Burns, regional HR manager for Hanson Australia.
“We’ve run the program three times and are now recruiting for the fourth. This time we’ve tried to change it up a little bit. Traditionally the course has been from motor car to rigid, but we also have a large HC task at Hanson too, so we’re trying to recruit a class of heavy rigid drivers and upgrade them to heavy combination.”
Burns added that there are plans to replicate the course in other states in the future; and to run it two-three times each year.
Hanson currently employs approximately 1600 drivers nationally. Out of around 3800 employees, roughly half of them are truck drivers.
“The pathway for women into truck driving isn’t always easy. So how do we fast track that route to the bigger licence? That’s the nut we’re trying to crack,” Burns added.
“There’s an industry shortage of drivers, so if we can pull this together and make it work, we have the advantage of attracting from a talent pool that many others haven’t tapped into.”
And Burns says the early indications are that those who have completed the program will go on to become a long-serving employees.