Careers & Training, Driver education, Driver training

Operator’s new simulator puts young people in the driver’s seat

With over 250 people on the payroll, Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage has become a multi-faceted enterprise since its inception in 1991 by brothers Andrew and Michael Divall.

Based in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, the company is active in earthmoving, civil construction and haulage among a number of other roles.

With an eye on the future and the requirement for new employees, the company has invested a considerable amount of money into a computer-based simulator aimed at giving young people exposure to both operating a truck and earthmover.

The simulator was both on display and in operation at the Deniliquin Truck Show in late October, with Divall’s driver trainer, and custodian of the simulator, Matt Ralph, giving a background to both the unit and its development.

“The thinking behind the trailer-based unit was to try and get young people into our industry.

“We take it to high schools and careers days, and they can come in and have a drive of a truck on the simulator – we have an earthmoving simulator hooked up to this as well, so if they are keen it can give them a bit of a taste without putting them in a machine,” he explained.

First hitting the road around 18 months ago, the simulator was developed with a custom-made program for the earthmoving operation, with the truck simulator package, which features both European and American truck-driving programs added later. Initially put together with the aim of attracting young people ‘in-house’ at Divalls’, the popularity of the simulator has seen the company form a partnership with the Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA) to take it to events across a wider area.

The Divall’s simulator was a popular attraction at the Deniliquin Truck Show.

“We get around about with it! We have done the Sydney, Diesel Dirt and Turf Expo and we have another business in Tumbarumba, so we have done a few careers expos and high school visits down there,” Ralph added.

“For us initially we got it to entice people to work for Divall’s, but we started branching out such as here today – we worked with LBRCA in Tamworth, so we have formed a partnership with them, and we are working with them today to show it to some of the younger people in the Deniliquin area.”

The simulator has become a popular attraction at career expos and so forth, and Ralph reckoned that the project has also been an effective promotional tool for the company as well.

“It’s very popular, it does draw a crowd and we do get people applying to work for us. Divall’s are very good at nurturing people, we get kids straight out of school and work their way up through being mechanics through to operators and drivers – there are also a number of  other roles in admin, engineering and so forth.”

With a growing freight task in Australia, and shortages of drivers and other transport workers well documented, any program  generated by industry to address future employment requirements should be applauded.

The Divall simulator is one such initiative, with the outfit helping to give some perspective into a diverse industry.

“Our target is young people around that Year 9 -10 range starting to think a bit about their future, it gives them a bit of an insight as to what driving a truck or operating a machine involves. It’s also good for our business and the feedback we have had on it has been very good.”

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