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NatRoad urges Productivity Commission to focus on skills

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Address at hearing underlines driver shortage threat to industry and safety

NatRoad urges Productivity Commission to focus on skills
Warren Clark


The nation needs a laser focus on the freight transport skills and recruitment or risk the industry faltering on safety and in support of economic growth, the Productivity Commission is told.

National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) CEO Warren Clark makes this points clear to the PC today at it latest hearing into national transport regulatory reform.

Acknowledging this was a national malaise, Clark tells the hearing: "The topic of skills development is critical as it can help employers move towards higher value-added employment and maximise business performance, especially heavy vehicle safety outcomes.

"Getting the right, skilled employees starts with recruiting the right people. For the heavy vehicle industry that is a difficult task.

"The recently published Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Skills Forecast 2019 says that over 80 per cent of employers reported experiencing a skills shortage in the last 12 months."

Occupations reported as being in shortage were: heavy vehicle drivers, general drivers, educators/trainers/assessors, warehousing, and supervisors/managers.

From what Clark relates, the industry continues to be beset with problems related to appropriate training standards shortfalls and barriers to entry of untrained operatives entering the industry.

Along with a negative public perception, key issues seen hampering recruitment of young workers are a lack of professional structure and of diversity.

Clark relates that NatRoad is seeking to tackle the issues through discussions with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business to tailor aspects of the Launch into Work program for the heavy vehicle industry.

"This programme enables employers to recruit for entry-level positions that have prospects for career growth," he says.

"Employers will be required to commit to employing suitable project participants, targeted at women, who successfully complete the program."

He notes that NatRoad’s FutureReady program is currently looking at further research including accelerated accreditation programs, business and digital literacy, as well as examining targeted diversity and inclusion programs, such as indigenous community involvement.

NatRoad uses the address to also reiterate is calls for greater and uniform transparency on driver data, the lack of which the PC also notes as an impediment to skills development.

"A legislative change that brings in the right of all operators to access the driver records would assist industry safety, a legislative change that could sit within the Heavy Vehicle National Law [HVNL]," Clark says.

"Certainly the comments which we make in this context show that the disparity in something as basic as whether an employer of principal can get information vital to meeting the broad COR duty shows the deficiencies in the law that sees licensing and registration of heavy vehicles vested in the States and Territories outside of the construct of the HVNL."

He offers the Queensland initiative whereby data on traffic history offences, including HVNL offences, are given directly to employers automatically but not to police.

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