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Volvo research reveals barriers for women wanting to become truck drivers

Volvo Group has revealed its own research results into how to overcome major barriers preventing women from joining the trucking industry

The federal government’s 2023 Skills Priority List has outlined that 4.4 per cent of truck drivers in Australia are women, with Volvo Trucks’ new research revealing the barriers driving this gender disparity.

Volvo says that arguably the largest barrier is women recognising truck driving as a possible career option, with 76 per cent of women having never considered becoming one.

The other prominent barriers cited by respondents in Volvo’s research includes accessing the right licenses (36 per cent), being worried about being physically strong enough (34 per cent) and a ‘blokey’ culture (33 per cent).

Volvo says truck driver training initiatives targeting women are needed to help more women get access to licenses, while modern trucks and trailers are now designed to mechanically support the driver while loading and unloading.

Lastly, Volvo says female-specific support including mentoring is essential for the country to balance a traditionally male-dominated workforce.

To help break down these barriers for women to get into truck driving, Volvo Group has launched Iron Women – a female-focused training program that aims to diversify and expand Australia’s truck driving workforce.

This week marks the first graduation from this grassroots initiative. During this first intake, 10 women from across the country gained the skills, qualifications and confidence to pursue a new career behind the wheel of some of Australia’s largest vehicles.

These women have already secured employment with Volvo Group customers, including Team Global Express, South-East Queensland Hauliers, John West Logistics, JATEC and Nolan’s Interstate Transport.

“Anyone can drive a truck, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or background, but today when we think about truck drivers, most people have one stereotype in mind,” Volvo Group Australia CEO and president Martin Merrick says.

“We want to change the face of truck driving by breaking down barriers that stand in the way of more people choosing to get behind the wheel. By launching Iron Women, we want more women and girls to see the strong and capable women who are already driving trucks, as well as the many benefits that come from truck driving including high salaries, flexibility and autonomy.”

Volvo Group Australia vice president of public affairs Lauren Pulitano says Volvo is committed to improving female representation in the group.

“We aim to have at least 35 per cent female leaders by 2030 – and creating positive change in the sector by upskilling Australian women across the country – regardless of what truck they drive,” Pulitano says.

The survey results also highlight the lack of awareness of the unexpected benefits of truck-driving. For instance, of the women not already truck driving, the biggest downside of their career is inadequate pay (35 per cent).

Yet, three in five women (61 per cent) didn’t realise that truck driving offers an extremely competitive pay of up to $150,000 per annum. When considering what would be the biggest motivator to become a truck driver, earning a higher salary was the top response at 51 per cent.

If these changes can be made, Volvo says there are immediate positives to be had.

“I used to work as a baker. Every day, I’d be jealous of the truck drivers making deliveries to the supermarket where I was working,” Brisbane-based Iron Women graduate Katherine Graham says.

“I’d think I’d love to do that, get behind the wheel and hit the open road! I never thought I’d be able to do it myself. Iron Women has changed everything. After this course, I am so proud to call myself a truck driver.”

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