Culture change essential, red tape must go

The trucking industry must develop employment strategies to offset skills shortages, but regulations and operating conditions are "killing" its chances

By Brad Gardner

The trucking industry needs to develop employment strategies to offset skills shortages, but regulations and operating conditions are "killing" its chances of attracting and retaining staff.

Speaking at the Women in Transport conference last week, Queensland Transport’s Louise Perram-Fisk told attendees companies must focus on mentoring new and current employees and understanding their goals and needs.

Perram-Fisk says companies must also put in place succession planning to ensure the business is capable of replacing departing employees.

As well as urging companies to focus on multi-skilling, Perram-Fisk says building a good culture will be the key to beating the skills shortage crisis.
"If you create a good culture then you will always have good people," she says.

But while Queensland-based company Nolan’s Transport has implemented strategies to retain and attract people, the operator’s compliance manager says a big disincentive to potential employees is the industry itself.

"We are absolutely overwhelmed by regulation and it is killing our industry," Darren Nolan says.

He says people are turning away from the industry because they do not want to work the long hours, comply with burdensome red tape or myriad permits.

He also criticised the Government’s decision to scrap drivers from the 457 Visa scheme, saying regional companies will be significantly hit because they already find it hard to attract drivers to remote areas.

"It is not good, particularly if you are from regional areas," he says.

In an attempt to offset this, Nolan’s has targeted ex-army personnel as well as developed an incentive-based bonus scheme to promote the company.

However, he says many employees are also looking for lifestyle career paths, which the industry struggles to provide because it has not traditionally offered either option.

Like other trucking companies, Nolan’s offers staff the chance to gain TAFE qualifications. The company also focuses heavily on staff needs, such as running social clubs, introducing flexible work hours for parents and bonuses for high performing employees.

"The personal approach is quite significant," Nolan says.

He says companies must recognise and reward staff for their efforts because it will encourage employees to remain with the company.

During his speech at the Women in Transport Conference, Nolan flagged the idea of companies advertising careers on their trailers to reach as many people as possible.

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