The majority of the readership of this invaluable industry news source are, I think it is fair to expect, are from the operational sector: owner-drivers and fleet drivers, fleet managers, fleet executives, service crews.
There are, however, an enormous number of your suppliers and support services, whose good people are also readers – because your success is their success. It is as simple as that.
That second group describes the members of Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA). That is, everyone connected with the supply, distribution and support of trucks, trailers, their components, equipment and technology.
In fact, if you put them all under one roof you might call that The Brisbane Truck Show.
The recent Jobs and Skills summit in Canberra brought together employer and employee groups from most of the industries that underpin Australia’s economy and resilience.
A subset of that group – leaders from across the breadth of the supply chain – were also brought together in the lead-up to the summit, so our interests were broadly agreed upon and the Transport Minister Catherine King represented our agenda to the PM.
HVIA outlined the impact to profitability and therefore viability, that flows on from the shortage of skilled employees.
This is nothing new and formed the basis for a large component of our federal election campaign earlier this year.
We went to all the major parties with our skills and jobs manifesto: We need greater flexibility in relation to skilled migration: faster processing times, cheaper, less restrictive in terms of geographic ties, and a temporary relaxation of labour market test.
We need to find ways to remove barriers regarding the under-employed; this needs to be evidenced based – is it childcare, lifestyle choice, education, self-funded retirees losing benefits, etc?
HVIA will also continue to pursue avenues to increase female participation. The industry is significantly under-represented with this valuable cohort (circa 23 per cent) when the broader economic benchmark is over 40 per cent workforce participation. The situation gets worse, when you break down specific jobs in our industry – like welder (1 per cent) and truck operator (3 per cent).
There is further to go with education and recruitment campaigns targeting women and younger workers through industry education and recruitment campaigns.
In parallel however, consideration to increased job flexibility is needed. i.e. flexible hours, accommodating family and carer responsibilities for both parents.
The minister came back with a broad summary of the actions proposed from the roundtable with solutions provided for consideration including broadly agreeing to our requests for action on skilled migration.
There was an agreed determination to support national accreditation, and nationally consistent approach to delivering high quality training through apprenticeships and traineeships, moving to a competency-based system, and standardisation of competencies.
The government is finding its feet with an abundance of complex economic, environmental, and societal issues to address, but importantly, the new government and our relevant ministers have offered an open door to industry. To see how that transpires into action, we will have to keep watch.
In the meantime, we have to recognise our own role in taking on these challenges.
Most of the best innovation occurs in the face of daunting, often inconceivable challenges.
The last few years have tested all of us, and on the back of that we have seen adaptability and versatility that shows how with sufficient determination and collaboration we can do anything.