An in-house driver training program has enabled Jamie Murphy, 29, to achieve his dream of upgrading from his HR licence through to his MC.
When he started working at South East Queensland Hauliers (SEQH) just under a year ago, he began working out in the yard.
With a HR licence already under his belt and around five years of truck driving experience – coupled with a good work ethic and the right attitude – Murphy was an ideal candidate for SEQH’s in-house driver training program.
Started in the 1960s and still family owned and operated, SEQH is a full service wharf logistics provider based in the suburb of Hemmant, about five minutes from the Port of Brisbane. It also has a second depot in Toowoomba, and operates a fleet of around 85 trucks across the two sites. Its fleet is comprised of semis, B-doubles, A-doubles and road trains, along with side-loaders.
As SEQH’s human resources advisor, Carolina Bayona Piñeros, explained, the company developed its in-house driver training program in response to driver shortages. “About a year ago, I started noticing how difficult it was getting to find good drivers. We were finding there were a lot of people who were interested in working in this industry, but they didn’t have the skills, the experience or the required licence,” she said.
“Together with our in-house driver trainer Dan Walter, we’ve created a program that provides people with the right attitude an opportunity to start working with us, starting out with a single trailer, then progressing them through to the doubles.
“We have a lot of drivers who have started working with us with previous experience in rigid trucks. After training with us, they are now doing double trailers at the wharves – and they’re really grateful because we’ve given them an opportunity that a lot of other companies weren’t providing.”
Along with practical on-road training, the program has a strong focus on loading, load restraint, where to place the load, along with covering range descents at locations like Cunninghams Gap and Toowoomba Range – providing SEQH with peace of mind that its drivers can gain sufficient experience before hitting the road on their own.
The program offers on-the-job training, with SEQH also covering the cost for its drivers to progress through each licence class.
For Murphy, he says he had hoped to one day be driving the big rigs, ever since he was a little kid. “My uncle used to drive B-doubles and I remember going in the truck with him a few times when I was six or seven years old – and I thought it was awesome. I’ve loved trucks ever since.”
Murphy had originally applied for a forklift driver role at SEQH, but after seeing his resume, the team offered him a job as a yard maintenance manager before offering him the chance to take park in the driver training program upon its launch.
“While doing yard maintenance, they asked if I wanted some practice moving some of the bigger trucks around the yard. I also practiced reserving and hooking them up,” said Murphy.
“I went out on three different drives with Dan – to Chinchilla, Pittsworth and Coopers Gap – which were all a few hours each. We covered a lot of different roads, different highways, tight corners, there was wildlife to look out for and we went through a couple of ranges as well.
“Heading out with Dan was good because you don’t feel as scared to ask questions. The help has been really good too. Often after my shift was finished, we’d still run into each other in the yard and he has always been really approachable.”
Murphy went on to pass his MC licence with flying colours on May 4.
Based at the Hemmant location, Murphy is behind the wheel of a Mack Superliner. “It’s one of the older ones, so it can be a bit bumpy but it’s a really good truck to drive – Mack does real well with their trucks. And then there’s a big yellow Kenworth we get to drive if our truck goes in for a service,” he added.
Murphy also has his MSIC card (Maritime Security Identification Card). “That allows us to get into the port and do container and oversize work too. I do a bit of everything now, it’s really good,” he added.
“This whole week I’ve been going out to Coopers Gap, which is three and a half hours away, then I head to Toowoomba to bring a load back, so I’m not running empty for too long. Other weeks, it’s more local stuff.”
For Murphy, he says the role has been a perfect fit. “I work well in a team, but by myself I get things done a lot quicker. I enjoy being out and getting to see things.
“With SEQH, there are a lot of different driving roles, including what they call the ‘grain run’, where you’re away from Monday to Friday, covering a lot of kilometres, carrying grain. I wouldn’t mind getting into that one day. And eventually I’d like to get into the interstate work, driving road trains.”