Casting the shackles off female participation

The findings of the Government’s most recent Labour Market Insights survey probably won’t surprise you, but they are, nevertheless, cause for great concern. At the same time, however, they also present a great opportunity.

The statistics identify female industry representation in the heavy vehicle, freight and logistics industries at just 24.5 per cent compared to a level routinely in the mid-40s in other Australian industries.  

It is far worse with common roles such as truck driver at just 3 per cent, and motor mechanics and fitter/welders both at just 1 per cent.

If that doesn’t reek of an excessively male dominated industry, nothing will.

Meanwhile, we complain about the shortage of new people entering the industry and our aging workforce.

Talking to our members, the lack of available skilled labour is far and away the biggest issue facing our industry presently.

And yet there is such an abundant untapped resource that we seem to have ignored, or worse – deterred – from joining our vital Australian industry. 

In the face of what is an almost crippling skills shortage, HVIA has joined forces with the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) to seek an industry-wide exemption by applying to the respective state anti-discrimination commissions. 

Enabling exclusive invitations to females to enter the heavy vehicle and logistics industries is a win-win – but needs anti-discrimination commission buy-in to proceed.

We have been working together on this plan since the Surface Transport Roundtable held by Transport Minister Catherine King back in August.

If approved by the jurisdictional commissions, the exemption would allow all industry participants to opt-in to the scheme and advertise roles for “female-only applicants.” 

The nation is crying out for our services to keep the supply chain moving.

That is good news in the sense that demand for new safer, more efficient trucks and trailers is at record levels.

The pipeline of forward orders blowing out because we just can’t make them quick enough.

The road freight industry is in the same boat and both HVIA and ALC agree one of the fastest solutions is to make the industry more attractive to the largest under-represented labour cohort – females. 

The application acknowledges the contributions of the existing female workforce.

The feedback from our members is very strong.  Females are great contributors in the workplace. They are safe, measured, professional, responsible, and reliable. We believe increasing the percentage of their representation will be a positive impact for our industry. 

Our members, across all sectors, offer dynamic, rewarding careers in a vast range of different areas. 

If we are successful and industry members are granted an exemption, we believe they will see an increase in female participation, more applicants and a greater chance of filling a vacancy.  

The scheme would be free and open to all HVIA and ALC members, and any other business identifying as part of the industry.  

There will be a simple application process which binds participants to record-keeping and sharing the results of the advertising campaign for reporting back to the commissions.

There is no question that the gender diversity scale needs to be tipped dramatically; there has never been a more opportune time to welcome vastly improved female participation across our vital and rewarding industries.

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