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NatRoad Calls For National Apprenticeship Program

The National Road Transport Association has thrown its weight behind a proposed apprentice system for the road transport industry, saying it will partially relieve the chronic shortage of drivers nationwide.

NatRoad has shown its support in a submission responding to an Australian Industry Standards Consultation Paper.

CEO Warren Clark said development of an apprenticeship program will not be a silver bullet but a step in the right direction in addressing the driver shortage issue.

He said it would also boost the status of trucking as a career and improve the quality of drivers.

“Back in 2016, an industry survey identified that half of all employers were finding it hard to recruit the drivers they needed.” Mr Clark said.

“NatRoad’s 2020 annual survey of its own members found that 45 percent of respondents were experiencing a driver shortage.

“There is a pressing need to allocate much greater industry and government resources to the issues associated with training and the development of career pathways in the road transport industry.”

Mr Clark said NatRoad has long championed improving better driver training via a nationally recognised qualification combined with supervised on-the-job experience.

“We want a move to competency based licensing arrangements and having an optional apprenticeship pathway aligns with that,” Mr Clark said.

“The current time-based requirement for heavy vehicle licencing is poorly conceived and delays the natural progression of young but highly competent drivers in heavy vehicle license categories.

“This is frustrating for young people who want to work in road transport, and potential drivers are more likely to change to a profession that offers faster job progression and earlier access.”