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Truck driving must be added to training priority list, says VTA

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The Victorian Transport Association will advocate for freight drivers to be added to a list of priority workers eligible for new apprenticeship support revealed in last night’s federal budget.

From July 1, apprentices employed in “priority industries” will be eligible for funding to help offset their training costs, with their employers also eligible for apprenticeship wage subsidies.

“The VTA will be advocating very strongly for heavy vehicle drivers to be added to this priority list given the labour shortages that are rife across the industry,” said CEO Peter Anderson.

“As we learned from Australian Industry Standards CEO Paul Walsh at the State Conference last week, the pathway to professionalising the heavy vehicle driver is through apprenticeships, underscoring the importance of the government recognising freight drivers as a priority occupation.”

At present the only industry category on the apprentice priority list is diesel mechanics.

Under a new scheme, apprentices undertaking a qualification at either Certificate III, IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level leading to an occupation on the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List may be eligible for a payment of up to $5000 for the first two years of their apprenticeship.

Employers of apprentices in the priority occupations may be eligible for a wage subsidy of up to $1500 per quarter for the first two years of the apprenticeship and up to $750 per quarter for the third year.

The priority list is based on the National Skills Commission analysis and will be updated every year.

However, when Big Rigs emailed the commission today to ask about why there weren’t more trucking industry sectors on the list we received the below response from Ellie Yates, director.

“Can I suggest you contact the Department of Education, Skills and Employment media team in relation to budget measures. They will be able to provide a more comprehensive response than we would.”

On the subject of fuel excise, the VTA said that halving of the fuel excise from 44 to 22 cents per litre for the next six months will provide immediate relief for road transport operators on their greatest expense, other than wages.

“While we would have preferred a Road User Charge reduction to ease supply chain cost pressures, we welcome the lower fuel excise, noting it must remain temporary so as not to jeopardise the long term and much needed transport infrastructure it is intended to fund,” said Anderson.

“It is important that operators factor the temporary nature of the reduction into their costs, with the hope that external factors that have pushed prices higher will ease later in the year.”

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