Training program

WA’s truck driver training program pushes for greater diversity

Julie Lymon and Natasha Wyatt are currently participating in a co-ed cohort course.

With its 50e Admission is set to begin next week, WA’s successful truck driver training program this time around will focus on getting more women in the driver’s seat.

An initiative of the WA government, the $6.1 million Heavy Vehicle Driver’s Course has seen nearly 500 truck drivers graduate through the six-week program.

Launched in April 2021 and delivered by Driver Risk Management (DRM), on behalf of Central Regional TAFE, the course aims to provide job-ready drivers.

The course is open to new entrants to the industry and those wishing to progress to higher bachelor classes. DRM chief executive Mia Taylor says that of those who completed the course, 85-90% were new entrants. About 40% of graduates to date are women.

“We would like to see an increase in gender diversity, as the diversity rates in the industry are still quite low. Companies are now making it easier to integrate women into this industry,” Taylor said.

“The industry is crying out for female drivers and participants, and as the Christmas logistics rush approaches, there are more jobs than people to fill the roles.”

The course is delivered in partnership with the Western Roads Federation (WRF).

WRF CEO Cam Dumesny said: “This trend is very good news for the transport industry, as many of our employers want to hire more female drivers, not only because of the skills shortage, but also because they bring different positive attributes to their business.

Women from all walks of life and circumstances have been drawn to the course, from middle-aged women to women looking for family time.

“Having a women-only cohort and the course’s support structure means it’s perfect for women who feel they may need time to build their confidence,” Taylor said.

The next course, for women, is due to start on November 14, with 25 places on offer. Participants just need to have their car license and be off their P plates.

“Rather than just having a license, the course provides the fundamental skills for graduates to become a safe truck driver on the road,” Taylor said.

“Each unit has a practical component as well as a theoretical component. For load restraint they actually load the back of a B-double and instead of nice neat boxes they also learn what to do with unstable loads and have an element for dangerous goods. We examine if your load contains dangerous goods, can it be mixed with other articles. Along with trip planning comes fatigue management and the number of breaks you would need.

To date, 89.5% of those who complete the course have obtained immediate or near-immediate employment.

Those interested in participating in the course can contact Western Roads Federation for more information.