“There are great driving jobs available in our industry, but too many job seekers don’t know they exist or don’t know how to get the skills and contacts they need,” Mr Smith said.
“A truck driver apprenticeship would enable apprentices to move around to different types of driving, as well as providing supervision, coaching and mentoring to help them through their training.
“The apprenticeship should be targeted at current school students (through school based training) and recent school leavers. The apprenticeship should be amended to include a forklift licence as a core unit, so apprentices can do meaningful work as soon as possible.
“The apprenticeship could also be made relevant to people changing careers by including business skills electives.
“The units in the apprenticeship should be subject to regular reviews as technology changes, and the qualification you get at the end should be renamed as a Certificate III in commercial heavy vehicle operations.
“It won’t happen in livestock any time soon, but many of the people starting their driver apprenticeships in the coming years will spend most of their careers managing self-driving vehicles, not driving them,” he said.
Mr Smith said AIS should develop a project timeline that would see the first apprentices start their training within 18 months, from early 2023.
“Over the years, we’ve seen so many proposals for improving truck driver training get bogged down without results. AIS needs to have a project plan to get us from here to the first apprentices starting on the job in 2023,” he said.
“As part of this plan, the future supervisors of apprentice drivers should be able to access free, nationally recognised training in how to supervise apprentices.”