Opinion

Looking forward to making more headlines

Celebrating 30 years of Big Rigs Newspaper! Wow! what amazing stories we have seen through the years and how the world has changed. We could never have imagined in 1992, what we would have gone through in the last two years or how industry would have changed or indeed, our everyday lives. 

While we cannot hark back to the ‘good old days we can look back at them with some fond memories and look forward to making many more.

In 1992, I had a fabulous job, a dream life and the absolute best truck drivers working for me that anyone could have wished for and thought nothing was going to change. Fast forward, 30 years, and many jobs later, the drivers have retired or moved into different industries or sadly one of them has passed away and I have a very different life. 

The drivers arrived really experienced or gained their experience through going with their fathers’ or their driver mates on weekends, or working around the yard, washing trucks, etc. and getting experience before they could get their licence. This meant by the time they got their licence they could drive, unload, and knew what the life on the road was about.

Unfortunately, now with all the new changes while drivers are formally trained and have their licence, it is difficult to gain experience.  

We have many driving schools offering short courses that enable drivers to get their heavy vehicle licence but really only teaches them to steer and little else. 

After speaking at the Australian Driver Trainer Association’s Big Day Out last year I was stunned that such short courses existed and that all training courses were not created equal. I realised how we need to bring some uniformity into the industry.

This is a great organisation and I hope to do much more work with them. However, we need to have more courses like the one we have with the Women Driving Transport Careers programme. Of course, this same course is available to both men and women at Wodonga TAFE, we also have the emergence of the driving apprenticeship which will make a huge difference to the industry.

Thirty years ago, we had the drivers lining up for jobs and now we have trucks sitting in the depot because we cannot fill them.

The other issue is quality versus quantity, and this comes back to the driver training and ‘on the job’ training. 

We have many excellent driver training facilities and some not so good, the same as it is in any industry. 

We also have the transport company in-house driver trainers: how much training have they had? Are they qualified trainers? Do they know how to train someone? You can have the knowledge and be unable to pass that knowledge on. 

Many excellent drivers move into these roles but many I have met do not have the patience or the ability to train new entrants to the industry. Whether this is due to lack of patience, arrogance or because they expect too much, too soon. It is definitely something that companies need to be aware of.

Maybe this is something we need to consider at the Transport Women Australia Limited Learning Initiatives Breakfasts or at our Driving the Difference Conference in June. 

We congratulate Big Rigs for their 30-year anniversary, and we look forward to the next 30. 

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