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Shearer sheds light on forklift training concept

Bid for clarity on reform seen as crucial to trucking and other sectors


With misunderstanding and knee-jerk reactions rife over the trucking industry’s forklift training and licensing reform concept, South Australian industry luminary Steve Shearer has sought to add light and context to it.

The idea has the involvement and backing of SA innovation and skills minister David Pisoni, himself no stranger to the challenges of creating more skilled young people, nor of forklift training.

“The proposal David Pisoni and I have comprises: 1. a contract of training; 2. restricted forklift licence only valid at the host employer’s premises (so not transferable interstate or to other employers); 3. supervisory requirements,” Shearer, the South Australia Road Transport Association (SARTA) CEO, told ATN.

“It is absurd to class all 16- and 17-year-olds as unsafe and being older is no guarantee of safety. It’s about proper competency-based training and supervision, which our proposal covers.

“This is vital for road freight sector because ever since the age threshold was raised to 18 we have lost the only non-mechanic entry pathway for young people into trucking and that has devastated our industry’s career structure.

“It’s a key reason why our age profile is now seriously out of kilter and presenting an inevitable threat to our sustainability.”

He argued that if young school leavers or school-based apprentices can only push a broom around a truck depot, the work value and justifiable wage is too low, so it’s unattractive to them.

He emphasised that other sectors need this too and that it is worth hundreds of jobs, while questioning the basis for the present rules.

“I discussed the issue with Michael Francis, CEO of Return To Work SA, who agreed to search their records for evidence of claims re under-18 forklift drivers … they found none,” Shearer said.

“SafeWorkSA has repeatedly failed to provide evidence of any actual issues and they just say that SA adopted the 18-year-old threshold under a national uniformity regime.

“So, its uniformity for the sake of it, despite the serious adverse consequences for trucking and for SA.”

Shearer insists that the restricted licence model that Pisoni and he are pushing “won’t offend national uniformity because the restricted licence would not be portable.

“A properly structured competency-based and supervised model under a formal contract of training would deal with the alleged questionable safety issues and open up hundreds of career starting jobs for 16- to 18-year-olds across various industries.”


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