Attracting and training new people to the transport industry continues to be a major focus for the VTA, with labour shortages crippling operators and adding to an already stressed supply chain.
Indeed, the labour crisis in transport was one of the most talked about issues at our recent state conference, with speakers and delegates putting their heads together to devise solutions for this escalating problem.
One of the strategies the VTA has been pushing for some time is to look to cohorts that traditionally are not aligned with freight and logistics, albeit for no good reason. Women – and in particular women over 45 – were identified as a particular cohort to target, with many women looking for second careers or returning to the workforce after raising children.
So, we were thrilled to be able to kick off the conference on a very positive note, with the Victorian Minister for Freight and Ports, Melissa Horne, joining us at Phillip Island to announce $3 million in funding for the VTA to train and place new workers to jobs in transport.
The Freight Industry Training for Jobseekers Project will create 125 jobs in the transport and logistics industry, providing a sustainable training and employment pathway into heavy vehicle driving, forklift driving and warehousing roles.
Through the program, priority groups such as women, women over 45, and older participants, will undertake training and will be provided with minimum 12-month employment on commencement into the project.
The project will increase the reach of the industry in securing suitable employees to meet existing workforce shortfalls and ensure it is well positioned for the growing freight task.
This funding and these new transport jobs will go a long way towards addressing labour shortages operators face, and of course is consistent with our efforts to increase participation rates among women in the transport industry.
Building on the success of the VTA Driver Delivery program, which has trained and placed over 200 new drivers into well-paying long-term jobs in transport, the program will make a meaningful contribution to growing our workforce and reducing pressure on operators that are desperate for help.
We acknowledge and thank the Victorian government for continuing to listen and respond to the needs of the freight industry across a myriad of issues that transport operators are confronting.
The state conference was a terrific opportunity to discuss many of these issues, with a particular focus on how higher fuel costs and rising interest rates – coupled with labour shortages – are impacting operators.
The message from speakers from a variety of backgrounds was clear and is one that the VTA has been expressing for many months, which is that operators cannot ignore rising costs within their businesses.
The Federal Minister for Assistant Minister for Freight Transport Scott Buchholz was especially blunt, cautioning operators at the conference who didn’t act on these rising costs that they would likely be out of business within a year.
Inflationary pressures are expected to be felt throughout the whole economy over the months ahead, with the Reserve Bank tasked with trying to keep a lid on inflation through the economic levers at its disposal.
Higher interest rates will inevitably be one of these levers, which will lead to cost hikes for everyone. The challenge for operators will be to build these increases into their cost models, so that customers and eventually consumers are also exposed to higher prices.
As I’ve said on these pages before, the VTA maintains many resources on fuel pricing to assist members in understanding how price fluctuations might impact their business.
These items can help operators to create cost models that accurately forecast how their businesses will be impacted by price fluctuations, and what must change in their pricing to address it. They are a VTA ‘members only’ benefit, and I would urge you to contact our secretariat on 03 9646 8590 for information on how to access it.
- Peter Anderson is the CEO of the Victorian Transport Association.