Careers & Training

Peak body outlines case to fix industry skills shortage

Aside from its push to have truck drivers on the Priority Skills Migration List, the Western Roads Federation (WRF) is also calling on Transport Minister Catherine King to introduce a raft of other recommendations.

Below are more details from WRF CEO Cam Dumesny on exactly what those suggestions are, how they can be implemented and why it’s so vital to the economy that they are acted on with a degree of urgency.

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King.

That the federal government work with industry and other stakeholders to identify and mitigate barriers to training and employment for marginalised groups.

In a detailed letter to King, Dumesny highlights the fact that the Western Australian Government invested $6.1 million in an “extremely successful” joint industry and TAFE Truck Driver training program.  

A program that trained and employed nearly 90 per cent of its graduates. Key to the success of the program has been the WA Government’s facilitation of active collaboration between TAFE and industry (WRF and TWU), he added.

But while the program has been highly successful, the near record low unemployment rate in WA means that attracting people to the course has become challenging.

“However, large potential pools of under employed people have been identified from a variety of disadvantaged groups,” said Dumesny.

“WRF has been actively engaged with these groups and with employers prepared to employ them.”

Those groups include:

a.  Principal carers

b. Pre- and post-release prisoners

c.  Indigenous groups; and

d. Refugee and migrant groups.

WRF CEO Cam Dumesny is lobbying Catherine King for fixes.

Dumesny also added that the WRF would like to engage with the underemployed mature age women segment. 

“A segment that has been identified in numerous federal government reports as having difficulty in finding employment,” he said.

“Our industry would be keen to engage with this segment regarding employment opportunities but have found difficulty in being able to identify an effective means of engagement.”

That offset funding of up to 30 per cent be provided to accelerate in-house training and employment programs by large/corporate companies.

Dumesny told King that despite strong interest from these groups financial and other barriers are preventing them from undertaking the training to enter the industry. 

“Federal Assistance for these disadvantaged and marginalised groups means they could access the training and in turn gain employment from willing employers.

“Several of our members have, or are interested in, conducting in-house traineeships of up to 10 weeks.  

“However, it has been determined that off set funding of up to 30 per cent of the cost of in-house training would accelerate the adoption of in-house training programs by companies.  

Consideration be given to removing taxation barriers to the employment of people on full or part pensions.

Dumesny said his association also passionately believes that the industry needs to utilise the intangible knowledge and skills of our retiring drivers as mentors for the next generation.  

“Using our recently retired drivers both helps mentor the next generation whilst paying respect to their acquired knowledge and skills.

“Unfortunately, our efforts to use such drivers to mentor the next generation in our state’s training course has been hindered. Because the current taxation rules essentially financially penalises such drivers who may be on a full or part time pension.”

That federal assistance be considered to helping support joint TAFE and industry training programs for operations staff.

There is a shortage of Operations Staff for planning, scheduling and compliance.  We have approached Perth South TAFE with the view to collaborating on a joint TAFE and Industry training model.  The theory being taught by TAFE but with the industry providing access to specialists, sites and technology that is in current use to supplement the quality of the training outcome.

Operations staff also provides an entry pathway into the industry especially for some of the marginalised groups, previously identified.

That the federal government works with industry to help support the development of a program that helps industry leaders adapt to change and the increasingly multi-modal nature of the transport.

Dumesny tells King that most transport industry owners and executives have risen through the “ranks” based on their experience and competence. 

“This is highly commendable and is a tribute to them. However, it is also a narrow base often limited to just the road transport mode,” said Dumesny.

“This could create issues for general productivity when opportunities provided by use of or integration with other modes is available.”

Secondly, as the road transport industry faces increases technology and other disruptions the lack of a broader base either experience or academic can limit the ability to adapt too and/or take advantage of new opportunities.

Dumesny said WRF has worked with Curtin University to implement a short course to help to begin to address these issues.

The course is being designed to suit mature age and industry experience people, to encourage discussion and to remove perceived negative barriers to tertiary level education.

That the Infrastructure and Transport Ministers’ Meeting direct a national effort towards prioritising the removal of productivity barriers in the road transport industry and its interfaces with other modes.

Dumesny also argued that the road transport industry faces a myriad of productivity roadblocks. 

“Such roadblocks compound the skills shortage whilst simultaneously increasing carbon emissions from the industry.

“The degree of effort to remove the productivity barriers ranges significantly. 

“However, if federal and state governments were to direct a national effort to remove productivity barriers then it would help skills shortage pressure, relieve some pressure on transport cost induced inflation and reduce industry emissions.”

  • To watch the Jobs and Skills Summit live from Parliament House in Canberra, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend