Industry News

Building a Diverse and Sustainable Workforce

Rachel Smith, Executive Director of the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, addresses an ongoing issue which cuts right across the transport industry, building a diverse and sustainable workforce.

It is a well-known fact the transport industry is facing a skills shortage in Australia, says Rachel.

Our domestic freight task is set to double by 2030, only 6 years away and yet we need 10,000 to 15,000 drivers to meet our current demand.

As our cities grow, the demand for food and fibre increases, as such the role of livestock and rural carriers increases, to move freight from farm gate to processors and supermarket shelves, and onto export markets.

ALRTA is highly supportive of moving to competency-based training and heavy vehicle apprenticeships to attract and retain candidates to livestock and rural transport. This would enable young persons to commence working in the industry from school age and move through structured learning and competencies to ensure they are able to safety and efficiently operate a heavy vehicle.

Diversity is key in ensuring the industry can retract and retain drivers, and as an industry we need to be looking at ways to attract school leavers, mid-career and those returning to the workforce or that require flexible work.

As those in the industry appreciate, livestock and rural transport is a complex and varied industry with no two days the same. On top of driving, operators need to understand complex regulations that apply including heavy vehicle national law, animal handling, biosecurity and small business compliance and operational requirements.

Government also plays a role in supporting the sector to be viable and attractive as a career option through reducing unnecessary regulation, ensuring the training and education sector is adaptable and flexible to meet industry needs and ensuring the industrial relations model is fair to both employees and employers.

Industry associations play a key role in supporting industry to meeting the changing and increasing demands and pressures on members. A priority of ALRTA is to assist members with workforce development and widening of the pipeline of candidates coming into the sector. ALRTA’s role as an industry body is to prevent and limit detrimental impacts of poorly designed legislation and regulation, this assists with ensuring the sector can remain viable and sustainable into the future. Some key issues for ALRTA include: HVNL and its enforcement, small business compliance and regulation costs, licensing and registration, road access, road funding, animal welfare and biosecurity.

ALRTA is committed to working with our members and partners to design and implement workforce development initiatives. Awards and industry recognition form an important piece of this puzzle. ALRTA Rural Transport Rising Star Award is now in its second year with thanks to foundation sponsors, Power Torque and bp.

ALRTA extends an invitation to industry to attend the ALRTA/LRTAQ Combined conference in Toowoomba, 21 – 23 March 2024 to listen to thought leaders, develop skills and knowledge, and acknowledge the success of industry operators, both seasoned and emerging. It is an event not to be missed.


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