Career News, Careers & Training, Driver training

Truck driver training program filling the on-road experience gap

Following the Austroads review of the Heavy Vehicle Licensing Framework, a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (Decision RIS) was considered and agreed to by infrastructure and transport ministers in late 2023.

The three changes that were given through in-principle agreement include: strengthening driving skill and knowledge, introducing experienced based progression options and strengthening training governance.

The current shortage of heavy vehicles drivers is severely impeding fleets to keep their trucks moving as there just aren’t enough people who possess the expected level of on-road experience required by employers. 

Despite the outcomes of the Austroad’s review, implementation of any changes will take considerable time and resources. Meanwhile there are fleets that have trucks parked up due to not having safe, experienced job-ready drivers to fill the seats. In addition, any changes to the licensing framework will still not solve the on-road experience gap.

The only way that drivers can gain an adequate amount of on-road driving experience is while performing the freight task. This can only occur once they are employed.

Joshua Scheu, pictured with staff from Russell Transport, completed the program with the transport operator. Image: QTA

Currently there is also a shortage of businesses willing to take on newly licensed drivers of any class. The age-old thought that insurers won’t offer coverage for inexperienced drivers is no longer a barrier and hasn’t been for some time. According to Australia’s largest truck insurer, National Transport Insurance, there are flexible solutions for fleets who proactively manage high risk drivers.

If the driver shortage is to be overcome, both in the short and long term, the industry needs practical solutions that will benefit the industry. It’s time to think of what we can do rather than thinking of why we can’t. 

The opportunity to create a pipeline of safe competent heavy vehicle drivers can be a reality. It can start with a decision by business to invest in training and the equipment needed to provide that essential supervised on-road driving experience that is the gap in the current training and licensing system.

With a requirement to perform up to 160 hours of on-road driving and freight task training (supervised), the QTA Heavy Vehicle Safe Driving Program is the most comprehensive practical driver training program currently being offered in the country. The point of difference with this program is that employers lead the process by employing the drivers; and all the training takes place while on the job with an experienced driver mentor from within the business.

The program also includes two fully funded independently assessed on-road and theory competency assessments during the program. On successful completion of the program, the employer is paid a financial subsidy to offset the cost of the supervision provided by the driving mentor.

The QTA is currently accepting Expressions of Interest from employers who are willing to employ newly licensed drivers (of any class), have competent experienced drivers able to supervise and are willing to commit to the training program requirements. The program is particularly beneficial for employers upgrading drivers to higher licence classes. Graduates of this program can move into a Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship to obtain a professional trade qualification.

For further information or to express interest, please contact Lisa Fraser by emailing or visit

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