More needs to be done to fix our industry, says Driver of the Year

Ross Transport driver Joshua Ulbrich has shared his thoughts following the ATA’s 2024 Workforce and Driver Training Summit in Melbourne last week.  

Ulbrich was the only full-time driver invited to speak at the summit, which was organised in response to the nationwide shortage of experienced drivers and concerns about unsafe driving.  

He said a major issue that was brought up during the summit was licensing.  

“It was suggested that there be more of an in-depth look into people’s background when they come to Australia from overseas and want to transfer their international licences,” he said.  

“If you had a truck licence overseas, you shouldn’t automatically get a truck licence over here.  

“You should have to physically demonstrate that you can drive, that you can restrain a load, that you can reverse a truck and trailer. It all comes down to safety.” 

Joshua Ulbrich and ATA CEO Mathew Munro at the ATA’s 2024 Workforce and Driver Training Summit. Image: ATA

Ulbrich, who was named 2024 National Professional Driver of the Year at the ATA’s annual conference in April, gave a speech at the summit which addressed driver retention and what should be expected from both employers and employees.

“We need employers to be up-front with new employees about everything, from the freight tasks you will be doing to the state of the equipment you have, to what your work week will look like,” he said.  

“I think sometimes they skim over these things, and if you want to retain drivers you’ve got to be honest from the start. 

“Then on the other side, drivers have got to present themselves well, they’ve got to have a good attitude.  

“They don’t necessarily have to know everything, but they have got to be honest about what skills and experience they have.” 

Ulbrich proudly drives a 2017 limited edition pink Kenworth T909 for Ross Transport. Image: Sandy Lattin

Ulbrich also spoke about how the government can help improve safety in the transport industry and address the driver shortage.  

“We need more funded training packages for the industry, whether you want to be a mechanic or a driver or in administration,” he said.  

“Some people don’t have the ability to outlay money for training courses, but it is something that they want to do. 

“One of the things I suggested was a HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) for those people, where you only have to pay back the loan once you are earning a certain amount.”  

He said the key points from the summit will be discussed by the ATA’s General Council in July, before they push for legislative change. 

“They had people at the summit that liaise directly with the government in Canberra, and they were more than happy to sit down with me and talk about how we can get our ideas through to politicians.  

“These things need to be changed, to make the transport industry a safer and more enticing industry to be part of.”  

He was happy to be invited to the summit, to give his input from a driver’s perspective. 

“There were a lot of important people there – the head of Mainfreight, the head of K&S Freighters, the head of Simon’s.  

“No matter what company we were from or what experience we had, we were all fighting for the same things.  

“It was great to be involved as a driver and get my opinions out there.  

“I love this industry, and I would love to see more people involved in it.”  

1 Comment

  1. Would have expected ‘Driver of the year’ to know you CAN’T transfer over an international truck license to an australian license. You can only carry over the car entitlement when you transfer licenses. His point about international drivers not having to go through Aus driver training and licensing is entirely false. (Rules may he different for NZ licenses).

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