New pilot program gets women behind the wheel

A new pilot program in Queensland is helping reduce truck driver shortages by getting women behind the wheel

April 20, 2011

An Australia-first pilot program is giving women a pathway into the trucking industry to reduce skill shortages and open up a new pool of talent to operators.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Strategix Training Group and JJ Richards have partnered to provide a traineeship for women to obtain a nationally recognised Certificate III in Transport and Logistics (Driving Operations).

Dubbed the Women Take the Wheel program, 19 women completed the course and successfully obtained a HR licence.

JJ Richards subsequently hired nine of the women to work as waste management operators at one of its depots south of Brisbane.

"Faced with industry skills shortages, the company took the opportunity to focus its recruitment efforts on new industry entrants – specifically women, who have been a largely untapped market," Transport and Main Roads Director General Dave Stewart says.

With almost 80 percent of roles in the transport and logistics industry held by men, Stewart says the program aims to encourage women who might not have considered a hands-on role such as truck driving.

"Obtaining a HR licence without the support of an employer and access to appropriate vehicles can be understandably overwhelming to new entrants and many women unfamiliar with the industry," he says.

"Historically the transport, logistics and supply chain industry has found it difficult to recruit women."

Word is already spreading about the effectiveness of the Women Take the Wheel program, with Stewart saying several businesses have expressed interest in taking part.

JJ Richards previously partnered with Queensland Transport and Main Roads to give secondary students the opportunity to complete school-based apprenticeships at the company’s depots.

A recent report from the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council found that more trucking companies are looking to employ women to offset the effect of skill shortages and demand for drivers in the mining industry.

The report found West Australian and North Queensland transport businesses were under most pressure to retain staff, with mining offering entry-level drivers up to $120,000 a year.

The Council says there is significant demand for local delivery drivers, managers, B-double drivers, schedulers and dangerous goods operators.

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