After months of lobbying behind the scenes, the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) is celebrating the news today that the state now has an official apprenticeship path for would-be truck drivers.
In a media statement today, the QTA said the state’s Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) has approved the industry proposal requesting the establishment of a Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship in Queensland.
The proposal was developed by the QTA on behalf of industry and received widespread support gained through extensive consultation with employers, drivers, and industry stakeholders.
“The Heavy Vehicle Driving Apprenticeship is long awaited recognition of the level of skill truck drivers require and must develop to be a safe and competent operator,” said QTA CEO Gary Mahon.
“This is a significant step towards sustaining the future workforce in the road freight industry with truck driving now offered as a professional trade.”
Mahon said the apprenticeship will add to other workforce attraction strategies that are needed to solve the labour shortage in the road freight industry, such as the QTA’s Jobs Ready Program.
If funded, that program provides an injection of truck drivers into the sector that is suffering from a lack of drivers with an appropriate level of experience, added Mahon.
Mahon said he’s now hoping the state’s aspiring truckie apprentices will be included as part of those 180,000 additional fee-free TAFE places that the Prime Minister announced at the Jobs and Skills Summit today.
Meanwhile, John West, managing director, John West Logistics said this is a great day for the transport logistics industry in Queensland.
“After many years of lobbying both federal and state governments by industry and private operators the announcement of an apprenticeship scheme for our industry will help raise the levels of safety and skills in this vital industry segment,” said West.
“Workers in the road freight industry are essential to the success of this country and they should be recognised as essential workers. They have proved this beyond doubt over the past few years assisting the country through the COVID crisis. We are ready to start new entrants now.”
The apprenticeship will attract funding subsidies under the User Choice Program to assist with training costs however a co-contribution towards the training will be required.
The QTA will continue to lobby for heavy vehicle driver occupations to be included on the National Skill’s Commission Skill Priority List.
“We would like to thank more than 90 organisations and key stakeholders who provided their feedback and support to assist in the submission of the proposal and achieve this important step forward for industry,” added Mahon.
“This announcement now provides employers an additional workforce attraction strategy to start managing the ongoing challenges of driver recruitment and growing the workforce.”
Employers interested in offering the Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship, can contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider who can assist with queries about apprenticeships and provide support and advice from pre-commencement to completion. Provider’s can be found here.
The Department of Employment, Small Business and Training website has information on incentives, costs and financial support for both employers and apprentices. Read more here.