Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has announced that his government has committed $4 million towards heavy vehicle driver training for 800 new drivers should they be re elected at the state election due in November.

The Victorian Government is partnering with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and others with the premier announcing the pledge at a VTA function in Melbourne attended by more than 100 VTA members.

Mr Andrews explained how his government’s transport infrastructure projects should become “the new norm” to enable the industry to achieve the efficiency and productivity gains needed for the economy to be successful.

VTA CEO Peter Anderson welcomed the initiative and the backing for the industry which Premier Andrews feels is often underappreciated by the public.

“Heavy vehicle driver training and reforms to licensing are issues the VTA has been advocating strongly on for some time as a further mechanism for attracting new people to the industry and addressing the shortage of skills and drivers that are holding many operators back,”  said Anderson.

“In partnership with the Victorian government, the VTA has provided intensive training for more than 60 new drivers through our Driver Delivery program, which has also been instrumental in putting these drivers in jobs in transport.

“The $4 million the premier has announced should his government be returned will go a long way towards addressing this shortage, with 800 new highly-skilled and professional drivers over four years a welcome addition to the pool of drivers our industry desperately needs to service the growing freight task.”

The Victorian premier was quick to point out how his government has invested in major transport infrastructure projects to improve efficiency in Victoria, including the Metro Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel and a capital works program building new roads in regional Victoria, which he sais was largely funded by the $9 billion his government has received for leasing the Port of Melbourne.

“While over the years at times, as an industry, we have felt left behind, there is now a real focus on our industry and we are encouraged by new infrastructure, a new industry specific department in Freight Victoria, and an economy that is going from strength to strength,” the VTA’s Peter Anderson concluded