2014 Australian Trucking News – ATA Appeals for Foreign Truckers to Aid Shortage of Drivers
Truckers from overseas could be possibly hired, in order to tackle an issue regarding the shortage of local truck drivers.
In Australia, an ageing labor force with a negative image that was made by a number of high-profile deadly road disasters and police crackdowns on crooked trucking companies has led to a to a huge shortage of truck drivers.
There have been numerous instances of drivers breaking speed limits, semi-trailers that are caught with a lot of shortcomings, as well as large vehicles crashing into motorway tunnels. These are turning possible recruits away.
Last year, 56 people in New South Wales lost their lives in crashes which involve large trucks. And now, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) is concerned that the road freight industry, which costs 18 Billion dollars a year, will end up becoming crippled. It has already made a request to the federal government to let foreign drivers cover their driver shortages.
In addition to these stricter fatigue laws for these truck drivers, workers are also in need of government help with recruitment operations in order to draw more drivers into this workforce.
The ATA, in compliance to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, which gives information to the government on how to handle shortage of skills, requested that heavy vehicle driving should be included to the migration Skilled Occupation List, so drivers who live overseas can apply for a 457 work Visa.
The ATA has also said that being a truck driver is an ageing workforce. In Australia, the average age of a truck driver is 43. Which means that by 2016, 20% of these drivers will reach their retirement age.
The submission also states that the heavy vehicle industry is currently facing a lot of weight from the great lack of drivers, as well as a negative image. It says that transforming the negative images that the media has shown regarding the heavy vehicle industry is very important, so they can draw in new applicants into the trucking industry.
The ATA mentions that a lack of balance in work, family life, plus health problems and a short amount of opportunity to train are also obstacles in hiring young aspiring truck drivers.
David Coonan, ATA’s National Policy Manager, says that while the trucking industry gives priority to attracting and training young and aspiring truck drivers, it is still not meeting the heavy shortage of truckers.
Coonan says that the ATA has suggested that the federal government needs to change the Skilled Occupation List and incorporate drivers of heavy vehicles, in order for transitory, and capable overseas drivers to increase the Australian workforce.
Ben Allen is 23 years old, and works as a casual driver for Farey’s Transport in Wagga Wagga. Don Harris, his boss, says that Allen, who is also a part-time nurse, is a diligent employee at their firm. Allen says that he has always enjoyed working driving big trucks, and he even tells the other male employees in the company that he arrives to work just get his driving fix. Allen thinks that truck driving is a wonderful career, and owning a heavy vehicle license is something that he can always fall back on.