The Federal Government has cleared the road for a new truck driving apprenticeship to help what it believes will secure Australia’s economic recovery.
Following calls from the transport and logistic sector for a nationally agreed qualification to meet future workforce challenges, the new national apprenticeship, Certificate III in Driving Operations, will see the industry in conjunction with states and territories develop a truck driving apprenticeship for the first time.
Under the apprenticeship future truck drivers will receive advanced competency across the profession that will cover, among other things, load constraints, transporting dangerous goods and pre-departure inspection.
It comes after federal, state and territory skills ministers endorsed the new framework.
Each state and territory will now consider adding the apprenticeship to their training programs, with existing Commonwealth funding for apprenticeships and training flowing as soon as they do.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said any new national trucking apprenticeship was a critical step to address a potential shortfall in the trucking workforce while meeting supply chain needs.
“Securing Australia’s economic recovery relies on the thousands of men and women driving trucks right around our country every single day,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our trucking sector drives our economy and there couldn’t be a more important job than getting food on the table to millions of families or delivering COVID-19 vaccines to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies right around Australia,” he said.
He was also in campaign mode, taking a swipe at the opposition, with a federal election anticipated for May next year.
“Right now we have a record number of trade apprentices in place with over 220,000 Australians training for new job opportunities which is in stark contrast to Labor who cut $1.2 billion to employer incentives and lost 110,000 places,” he said.
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business Stuart Robert said the new trucking apprenticeship was an example of the Morrison Government’s commitment to driving new opportunities for Australians to take control of their careers and get ahead through skilling.
“The new trucking apprenticeships come at a time when the Government is delivering record amounts of support to apprentices and trainees, which has seen hundreds of thousands of Australians upskilling or reskilling thanks to JobTrainer, TAFE funding and apprenticeship funding,” said Robert.
“In delivering an additional pathway to get skilled and keeping our economy going, today’s announcement is further confirmation the Morrison Government is the best friend an apprentice has ever had,” he said.
“The Morrison Government will spend a record $7.1 billion this year alone on skills and training, delivering real apprenticeships, unlike Labor who actually cut apprenticeship funding last time they were in Government.”
A study by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) of Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) funding through 2020 has found the Morrison Government provided the vast majority of the increase to funding across the skills and training sector, including TAFE.
The NCVER study found the Morrison Government increased funding from $2.65 billion in 2019 to $3.83 billion in 2020 (excluding loans), an increase of $1.18 billion or 44.7 per cent. Over the same period the state and territory governments’ combined contribution increased from $3.72 billion in 2019 to $3.86 billion in 2020, an increase of $142.2 million or 3.8 per cent.
Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz said the new apprentice pathway would help lift the professionalism of the transport industry and attract new workers.
“The transport industry is the lifeblood that keeps Australia moving and supplied, Australia stops without our hard-working truck drivers, it is as simple as that,” he said.
“Truck driving is about more than just changing gears and unloading, by providing a national driver training framework, our future truck drivers will have an advanced competency across the profession, such as load constraints, transporting dangerous goods and pre-departure inspection,” said Buchholz.
“This is a new approach to ensuring our transport industry has the workforce of the future and provides young Australians with the opportunity to have a career, not just a job – in a rewarding industry.
“The Commonwealth led the nation on this and we will continue to work with State and Territories Skills Ministers to ensure they step up to roll out this new and exciting apprenticeship pathway for the next generation of professional, Australian truck drivers.”
The Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee finalised updates to the Certificate III in Driving Operations and the nationally agreed enhancements have been recommended for delivery as an apprenticeship, subject to States and Territories agreement.