As JATEC Transport celebrates its 20th anniversary this month, the family run operation is thinking outside of the box to attract young drivers.
Based in Sydney, JATEC Transport’s operations are centred predominantly around local empty pallet transport. With 17 trucks in the fleet – a mixture of rigids and prime movers – it currently employs 17 drivers, so each driver has their own dedicated truck.
But in recent times, as is the case for many transport operators, attracting young drivers has been a real struggle. So the team at JATEC put their heads together and launched a new driver training program that trains drivers up from their heavy rigid to their heavy combination licence.
Conditions of entry to the program include a minimum of 10 months heavy rigid experience, and the ability to drive a synchro gearbox.
Successful applicants start in the rigid truck where they spend approximately two months completing a comprehensive training program before going for their HC.
“We have always had that internal promotion mentality, so that’s how this driver training program originated,” said Caitlin Barlow, JATEC Transport business development manager.
She – along with her brother Aaron Barlow who is fleet manager – are part of the second generation of Barlow family members involved in the business that was started by their parents Jane and Troy Barlow in April 2003 – when he purchased a truck and began working as an owner operator. The company name is an acronym of the family names: Jane, Aaron, Troy, Ethan and Caitlin.
“Through the program, we want to get young people in so we can train them up in our operation and train them to get their HC licence.
“We’ll teach them how to throw straps and that sort of thing too. After approximately two months of training, we put them through a two-day training course at a professional driver training company, and pay for their licence upgrade fee,” said Caitlin.
“There’s a huge driver shortage in the industry. I do a lot of work speaking with kids at schools and have a real passion for getting young kids into transport – and once we get them here, keeping them here. Our driver training program is aimed at younger applicants, but we also invite experienced applicants to come and have a chat with the team.
“With the current cost of living crisis, this is also well timed because it’s a huge cost to upgrade your licence. JATEC will cover that for someone who is willing to work and has the right work ethic.”
Already, the program has been attracting possible candidates. “We’ve had a few applicants which has been great. My vision for this program is that we keep getting as many drivers through as possible,” added Caitlin.
Those who successfully complete the training program are then employed as company drivers. “The expectation is that they stay on for at least a year. At JATEC, we’ve had many drivers with us for well over 10 years, so the driver turnover is quite low,” Caitlin explained.
As JATEC grows its business operations, the hope is to be able to continue this program indefinitely.