A new pilot program in Western Australia expressly dedicated to truck drivers has been announced.
The Australian first will train up to 1,000 workers for the transport sector with Central Regional TAFE partnering on the initiative.
The State Government has committed $6.1 million to what it calls the Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations Skill Set pilot in an effort to address skill shortages in the transport industry.
Through the program barriers to entry in Heavy Rigid (HR), Heavy Combination (HC) or Multi-Combination (MC) heavy vehicle driving will be removed as a result of theoretical and hands-on practical truck driver training.
The Transport portfolio will provide targeted funding for delivery of industry mentoring for program graduates, to be co-ordinated by Western Roads Federation, which will be crucial for smaller transport companies without the capacity to provide on-the-job training.
The Heavy Vehicle Driving Operations Skill Set will be delivered in Perth’s north-eastern suburbs by Central Regional TAFE and is an expansion of the Heavy Haulage Driving Operations Skill Set being delivered in Collie, which will transition to the new program.
The new program, according to a media release, has been modified to provide students with more of the practical skills needed by industry, including on-road experience.
In direct response to the needs of industry, the short course has been developed to have a strong focus on practical skills and will be an Australian first.
Western Roads Federation has been advising the State Government on issues affecting the industry, and has been instrumental in the development of the expanded skill set to address unprecedented skilled shortages.
The aim of the pilot is to increase skilled workers in this essential service but also give existing workers the opportunity to upskill to more complex combination heavy vehicle driving, increasing industry productivity and safety.
The course will run for just over six weeks, with the first intake in the metropolitan area expected to commence in March. Regional locations are also in development.
The formal training component of the course will be free for job seekers and people under 25.
A small contribution will be required for participation in separate practical driving lessons, which will accompany the training.
Course participants will get a credit toward the Certificate III in Driving Operations traineeship and a leg up to complete the full qualification.
In a statement WA Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said the state’s vocational education and training system had responded to workforce needs in industry with the pilot program.
“Training is a major part of our economic recovery from COVID-19, and this new training opportunity will give Western Australian job seekers the opportunity to start a career in this essential industry,” she said.
“Our job-ready skill sets have supported many industries throughout the pandemic and will place Western Australia in an ideal position for economic recovery post COVID-19,” said Ellery.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the COVID-19 pandemic had demonstrated how vital the freight industry and truck drivers were to the state and its economy.
“We have worked collaboratively with industry to create this program to make sure it gives truck drivers the skills they need while also helping jobseekers increase their employability,” she said.
“Western Roads Federation and the TWU approached the Premier, Minister for Education and Training and myself, asking to create a dedicated training course for truck drivers.
“We responded with our initial training course in Collie, and I’m so pleased we have been able to build on the success of that pilot and roll out a training program in the metropolitan area.”