Amid the constant reports of driver shortages and companies struggling to find truck drivers, this newly licensed truckie is perplexed at why it was so hard to find someone who’d give him a go.
Based in Canberra, Alfred Fripp, 55, got his HR licence almost two months ago and plans to eventually work his way up to his MC. But he applied for over 40 truck driving jobs before having any success in securing a job.
Prior to turning to truck driving, Fripp owned a café/restaurant near Greenway in Canberra. But the impact Covid had on the hospitality industry took its toll and he closed up in July this year.
The decision to get into truck driving didn’t come entirely out of the blue. Prior to running his café, Fripp ran a refrigerated van courier business. “I love driving and have been involved around driving for a long time. I wanted to get back into it but didn’t want to drive vans, so I went for my HR,” he said.
“Driving trucks has always been something I wanted to do, ever since I was a kid. I enjoyed driving the vans, but with couriering, there’s not a lot of money in it anymore. I didn’t think it would be easy to get into, but when I saw that people were looking for truck drivers all the time, that’s when I made up my mind to give it a go.
“I’m 55 now, which makes me the least employable demographic in Australia, just purely because of my age.”
Fripp says no matter where he went or who he spoke to, “you have no experience” was one of the first things he kept hearing.
“I just wanted to find someone to get me started in HR and allow me to work my way up,” he said.
“When I was young, a company would take on a driver and train them up as an investment in that employee. That hasn’t happened for a long time, and the industry is paying for it now, and that’s why there aren’t any young drivers coming through.
“From what I can gather, most of them were scared of insurance and stuff. When I put a post on Facebook, a lot of owners were pointing to the insurance issue. They need to stop letterboxing people and saying this what you’re going to be like because you’re new. A lot of them seemed to be worried we’d ruin the trucks too. It’s a very close-minded attitude.”
But after countless applications, finally an employer answered the call, with refrigerated freight business Roadmaster offering Fripp a job, delivering refrigerated freight across Canberra and its surrounds. He started there three weeks ago.
“With Roadmaster I didn’t submit an online application, I decided to go in and hand them a resume. They gave me an interview on the spot, and then called back the next day to offer me a job,” explained Fripp, who is grateful to have been given the opportunity to get his start.
Surprisingly, Fripp says he’s the youngest driver there apart from one person in his thirties.
“Most of the drivers are older than me, they’re all heading to 70 and older, so are all going to stop driving at some point soon. For me to be one of the youngest drivers is in itself another issue,” he said.
For Fripp, he plans to stay in the industry for the long haul. “This is it for me, I don’t want to look for another job again. And these guys at Roadmaster have said they’d be happy to sit me through to my HC once I’ve done the one year that is required,” he said.
“I have seven kids who are all grown up. I’d like to get into interstate – I don’t have commitments, so would be happy to do anything that involves time away from home, so long as I get back home occasionally. MC is my ultimate guy. To be able to jump into anything and drive it interstate would mean there would always be work available.”