Opinion: Industry win for training and licensing

By: Roz Shaw

Victoria’s new model shows the way ahead

Opinion: Industry win for training and licensing
Roz Shaw


Now the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA’s) new model for training and licensing heavy vehicle drivers has proved its worth and received state government funding, the rest of the country should follow suit.

Over the past few years the VTA has mobilised member support to trial a new heavy vehicle training and licensing model and now has won a commitment from the state government of $4 million over four years to educate 800 new drivers. 

Focusing on developing 140 key competencies in a real-life situation, the eight-day Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program has been adapted from a successful Canadian model.

Over 70 trainees were placed with member businesses and over two and a half years they have stayed in the job and maintained spotless incident records, convincing the government that the program provides a better alternative to the existing five hour training licensing model.

What the VTA’s success in obtaining government funding for association-provided driver training shows us is that we really need our governments to do something about the driver shortage because it doesn’t just affect the transport industry but every industry that relies on trucks for delivery – and in Australia that is basically everything – and that the model they’ve chosen can now be recognised as being best practice and providing an industry training benchmark that is achievable in practical terms.

Read Roz Shaw on combating complacency and ignorance in the workplace, here

The VTA got government endorsement because it proved that its training program worked in terms of in the safety performance of trained truck drivers and job retention, that the way that they do this actually does get results.

The biggest factor in the success of this program was the fact they worked with industry operators. If they didn’t initiate the program it could never have gone ahead and they needed the support of operators because the industry itself doesn’t have the resources to train drivers.

Career training for the heavy vehicle sector has to be a collaboration between association providers and their member operators. Transport companies have to be involved to make it work.

Because the Victorian association did the hard yards with the MELT model, other states shouldn’t have to demonstrate further proof of suitability to purpose because the Victorian model, and the Canadian original that it was based on, have already established its effectiveness.

The other states could follow suit by adopting the training program model. Each association in each state could take the Victorian model and implement it in conjunction with training providers and member operators, and the Australian Transport Association should lobby the government to have the program recognised. It should be a nationally accredited training model.

The goal is for freight operations to be in control of a certified process that can be encouraged in schools as a potential career path. This is critical to the future of our industry: we are approaching a tipping point in lack of driver resources for the country’s transport load.

Roz Shaw is Head of Transport at international insurance broker Gallagher, and the former CEO of Hawkins Road Transport Pty Ltd.

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