Australia, Opinion, Transport News

TMX Transform director discusses Australia heavy vehicle driver shortage

TMX Transform’s supply chain director says a rest area strategy and apprenticeships could be key to addressing Australia’s heavy vehicle driver shortage

TMX Transform supply chain director Jamie Dixon says that, while a recent immigration surge may help address the skilled truck driver shortage in Australia, more needs to be done to service future road freight demand. 

Dixon says while two-thirds of non-bulk domestic freight is carried on Australian roads, the labour shortage in the trucking industry continues to persist. 

“Truck drivers are business critical. They are the glue keeping the country’s supply chain running,” Dixon says. 

“Inadequate staffing levels can represent major business problems with flow-on impacts, compromising service delivery, timeframes and customer experience.” 

Currently more than 20,000 truck driver jobs are being advertised on Seek.com.au as of February 6. Dixon says an article by Shell found similar numbers this time last year. 

Dixon says the main issue contributing to this shortage has been Australia’s ageing population, with the average age of these drivers being around 50. 

Dixon says while migrant numbers have increased to 518,000 migrants for the 2022-23 financial year, majority of immigrants who find work in the road freight industry are driving vans and small trucks. 

This surge in immigrants may be a saving grace, but Dixon says an industry-wide capacity correction will require multiple things to happen. 

“Professionalising truck driving may boost numbers and attract more candidates to the industry, according to Australia Industry Standards and others,” Dixon says. 

“Various heavy vehicle apprenticeships are now available or in different stages of submission and review across states and territories.” 

A review by TMX for Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds also found that establishing a national heavy vehicle rest area strategy could also help attract workers to the profession. 

Dixon says road and rest areas must be treated with the same level of attention as a white-collar office. 

“The TMX report found road freight is expected to grow by 56 per cent by 2040 in Australia,” Dixon says. 

“This is a challenge that will not go away on its own, but the businesses who rely on truck drivers can help shape the solution.” 

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