Careers & Training, Features

Truckie with young kids turns to driver training

A former truckie, who is now a mum with two small kids, has told of how she’s retraining as a truck driving instructor to work around her family life.

Ashleigh Anderson from Brisbane has over a decade of experience in the transport industry, driving everything from liquid asphalt tankers to road trains.

The 33-year-old welcomed her first child, a little girl called Abby, four years ago – and continued driving casually while coming to grips with motherhood.

But after her second baby came along a year and a half ago, and her husband switched from being based locally to flying out to work in the mines for two weeks at a time, she knew a change had to be made.

“I realised that going back to work as a truck driver would not be achievable, with the hours in the industry,” she told Big Rigs.

“I’m sure there are some casual jobs that exist within school hours, but I don’t want to go and drive for four hours in a tiny little truck doing deliveries. Having experience with fuel tankers and road trains, a little runaround truck is not something I would enjoy doing.

“I thought of becoming a driver trainer because I already have the gist of it, just not specifically teaching truck drivers.”

Ashleigh with her little ones. Image: Ashleigh Anderson

Before applying for a course to become a truck driving instructor, Anderson approached Women in Trucking Australia for financial support through its Foot in the Door program.

The program doesn’t usually fund instructor training, but they made an exception for her.

“I was blown away that they were willing to help me out,” she said.

“To have the opportunity to train up-and-coming drivers is amazing, and I’m so grateful for the support of the WiTA team in helping me achieve this.”

Anderson has started her training course with ACTM.

“I’ve completed four units so far, and it’s been fantastic,” she said.

However, she admitted she’s a little anxious about becoming an instructor in such a male-dominated industry.

“I have obviously worked with a variety of different men through the years,” she said.

“Some pleasant, some very unpleasant. Men don’t always like being told what to do by a woman, so I’m slightly nervous about how they are going to react to me telling them how to drive a truck.

“I have pretty thick skin though, so I think I’ll be okay.”

Ashleigh has driven all kinds of trucks over the years. Image: Ashleigh Anderson

Aside from a few uncomfortable experiences over the course of her career, Anderson has always loved working in the transport industry.

“I’m beyond passionate about this industry,” she continued.

“It’s the only industry I can see myself ever being actively involved in. I love the solitude of being on the road, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

And she encourages more young people, especially women, to consider a career in trucking.

“Just take the plunge,” she said. “It’s fantastic – and if the environment you’re working in is not fantastic, find another one that is.

“The majority of companies are really welcoming and supportive.

“My advice would be to trust your gut and have confidence in yourself. And if in doubt when you’re in a truck – just step out and take a look.”

Women in Trucking Australia said they are delighted to support Anderson through the Foot in the Door program.

“After assessing her very impressive application, we were delighted to accept Ashleigh into the program,” said CEO Lyndal Denny.

“It’s our way of ensuring we’re not only supporting Ashleigh, but also boosting female driver trainer numbers as well.”

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