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Prime Mover Magazine

VTA calls for skills-based incentives and training for young drivers

In a bid to attract young drivers to the industry and improve driver training, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has called for a review of the state’s heavy vehicle licensing system.

Peter Anderson, CEO VTA, called for urgent reform of the system as a way forward to improve qualifications and safety standards through the use of skills-based training.

“Such measures will help reduce the shortage of drivers by attracting young people to the industry who are looking for a career in a safe and attractive workplace as a professional truck driver,” said Anderson.

Under the current system Anderson believes the minimum requirement for prospective drivers has been set too low for attaining a heavy vehicle driver licence in Victoria. He said there were genuine concerns that licences are being issued to drivers who do not have the necessary skills and abilities to safely operate increasingly complex large modern trucks.

At current, a heavy vehicle licence in Victoria can be obtained by holding a valid Victorian car licence, passing an eye test, meeting minimal medical standards – with limited heavy vehicle knowledge and a skills test from an authorised trainer. A five hour course recommended by VicRoads is inadequate requirement said Anderson.

“We feel this underprepares drivers for the heightened safety risks that are a product of the growing freight task, greater road congestion and soaring population growth,” he said.

Anderson suggested remodelling the heavy vehicle licensing system on the subsidised intensive eight-day course the VTA operates in partnership with Armstrongs Driver Training, which includes over 60 hours of training and behind-the-wheel mentoring as a way forward. 

A culture of professionalism, according to the VTA, is important to promote if they are to help attract young people to a rewarding and lifelong career in transport.

“The present shortage of drivers is also a function of the aging population, and with ABS Labour Force Survey data suggesting nearly half of the current workforce in the industry will be 65 or over within 10 years, and with freight volumes expected to double over the same period, the urgency of attracting young, skilled people to the industry has never been greater,” said Anderson.

He said visitors to Australia could get a heavy vehicle permit, providing they met the basic visa and car licensing criteria, under the current licensing system in Victoria.

“This has created a silent underclass of transport workers being employed by operators that are desperate for skilled drivers but are starved for choice, and who are possibly vulnerable to underpayment from the few rogue operators out there who are ambivalent about exploiting people who don’t know their rights.”

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