Truck driving trainer says women truckies are often better than males

truck driving trainer

The news of labour shortages in transport should come as no surprise, with news outlets and national callouts for drivers assaulting our news feeds daily.  

A 2022 study by the National Skills Commission revealed that since February 2020, the number of online job advertisements for truck drivers increased by 101 per cent. 

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Despite this influx, there has only been a 0.1 per cent increase in the number of people employed as truck drivers, compared with a 2.9 per cent increase for all other occupations. 

One key issue contributing to the shortage is an ageing workforce, with the average age of truck drivers falling between 45 and 54, and less than 15 per cent of drivers being under the age of 30. 

A highly contentious topic, Facebook and chatrooms have been ablaze with debate over suggestions to mend the budding problem.  

Less than 15 per cent of drivers are under the age of 30

David Bussey of David’s Truck Training has garnered some ideas of his own through his years of experience.  

Training Sydney’s next generation of drivers since 1997, David specialises in light, medium, heavy rigid, multi and heavy combo licences.  

Offering a one-day, all-inclusive training session, David says while he loves teaching the new generation about trucking, many don’t see the industry as enticing.  

He says only around 20 per cent of his students are under the age of 30.  

“The main excuse I hear from young people is that they want a higher income with less work,” David says.  

The transport industry has been criticised in the past for overworking and underpaying its employees. While initiatives and pay raises have somewhat mediated the problem, many still associate the career with long hours and being away from home.   

Recently, companies such as SRV Road Freight, have been enticing new drivers by prioritising a work/life balance and offering Monday to Friday full-time work.  

“More people would be interested in joining the industry if they knew they could prioritise their families,” David says.  

“If drivers could only work Monday to Friday, from seven to five, or four-thirty to one, a lot more people would be interested.” 

David says he believes the biggest issue affecting the shortage is a lack of knowledge and access to the industry. 

“So many young people simply don’t know about the industry. If they knew there was an income there, and that they could possibly be making more money driving rather than going to university, it would be more appealing.” 

There has also been a push within industry to engage more student leavers with heavy vehicle apprenticeships.  

The Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee (IRC) released communication in November 2021 supporting the concept of an apprenticeship for heavy vehicle drivers. 

“Another problem I’ve seen is young people being unable to afford the licencing process themselves. If it was instead packaged into a transport apprenticeship, where they got a forklift, machine and truck license in one, it would be more attractive.” 

“The government could even look at allowing people to put their license fees on a HECS debt. It could give them a leg up, and they can pay it back later like with university fees.”  

Women are eager to learn and ask questions when driving

Through David’s Truck Training, receiving a light rigid licence is $1000 (own company vehicle required) and medium rigid is $1000 (vehicle supplied).

A heavy rigid condition B or unrestricted is $1300, while a heavy combination condition B or unrestricted is $1500, both with vehicles supplied.

Receiving a multi combination unrestricted licence is $1800, and straight assessments or condition B removal is $800 for half day training. 

One day courses are a minimum 5.5 hours for Condition B or 7 hours for unrestricted, driving around the Sydney Metropolitan & Cronulla Beach areas. 

David says the odds are stacked against young drivers despite the push, with not enough opportunities available to them.   

“The problem that I see with young people coming through is insurance,” he says. 

“If you are under 25, your insurance premiums go up as the employer.” 

“Even if they have a completely clean license and have done nothing wrong, it is costing the employer more money to put them on than anybody else.”  

“That’s why a lot of companies won’t hire younger drivers. They don’t mind taking new, green drivers though, that’s not the issue. The younger drivers cost money.” 

Many companies are pushing for more women drivers

Within the push for apprenticeships, there has been a rather large drive for female training programs.

Volvo Trucks Australia even announced it has, in conjunction with Wodonga TAFE, launched a driver training and licencing program aimed specifically at females. 

“Women drivers are awesome,” David says.  

“Females are often better than blokes when it comes to driving because they will say if they do not know how to do something. They want to learn,” he says. “But with most men they are too proud to admit they have no clue.” 

“And when it comes to machines, the females are a lot gentler. There’s a big push in industry for females to come through.” 

“Young people need to know how much easier it is now. It’s not like the old days where you had to be built like a mountain to be able to drive. You can basically run the trucks with one finger now.” 

“I taught a girl the other day that’s an amputee, and she’ll drive trucks without a problem. 

“You’re not expected to do anything except drive and secure the load. And if you’re with a company like Toll, someone else actually loads you.” 

David says he enjoys taking the young ones under his wing. He loves seeing them walk away feeling super confident, and feels confident knowing that there are now young safe truck drivers on the roads.  

He says he would love to see the industry get behind some new initiatives and really drive forward in making changes.

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