Funding for transport industry training critical

By: Chris Smith


The Rudd Government’s consideration of providing funding for training and development of workers as a response to the global economic

The Rudd Government’s consideration of providing funding for training and development of workers as a response to the global economic crisis must include the transport industry say the Transport Workers Union.

The TWU say they have consistently called for greater investment in the training of potential and current transport workers and claim there is a need to provide a national safety and training program in order to encourage more drivers into the industry.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon says the tight market currently being experienced in various regions of the country within the road and bus transport sector of the transport industry needs urgent attention and a national approach to finding practical solutions from both industry and government.

"We need to improve training, safety and rates of pay across the road transport sector to encourage young people to enter our industry and to retain drivers."

"Providing young people with the training they need to enter the transport industry is important for job creation now and it will put the industry in the best position possible for when the economy picks up."

Research suggests that the current training provided under policies of the previous
Federal Government in the road transport industry is inadequate claim the TWU.

It is estimated that between 80-90 percent of all training that is conducted in road transport is actually of existing workers already qualified and licensed to drive heavy vehicles.

In 2006 the Federal Government spent at least $34 million on training incentives, none of which has gone towards training and licensing the next generation of heavy vehicle driver.

The August 2007 Senate Inquiry into "Workforce Challenges in the Transport Industry," gave key recommendations that: "employers in all sectors of the transport and logistics industry give priority to improving work conditions, including minimum safe rates of pay and paid waiting time."

The inquiry also recommended that the expansion of the subclass 457 visa to the transport industry is not an appropriate solution to the industry workforce challenges.

"If there is going to be long term changes to improve the road transport sector and to encourage new drivers then investment in training needs to occur now," Sheldon says.

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