Volvo Trucks Australia has announced it has, in conjunction with Wodonga TAFE launched, a driver training and licencing program aimed specifically at females, to be called Iron Women.

Volvo says the pilot program will provide vocational training and heavy vehicle licencing for females of all ages and backgrounds interested in pursuing a career in road transport.

The company added that the three-module course covers all facets of driver training, from compliance, fatigue management and load restraint to initially obtaining a Heavy Rigid (HR) licence.

When the participants complete the course they will receive their Certificate III in Driving Operations.

After 12 months on the job as a Heavy Rigid driver, the participants will complete their final module of training and undertake their Heavy Combination licence test.

“Iron Women programs have successfully run around the world, and we can see that the transport industry is suffering from a chronic shortage of skilled drivers,” said Volvo Group president and CEO,  Martin Merrick.

“ Anecdotally, we can also see that industry image also plays a part when it comes to women considering a career in road transport,”  Merrick added.

“We hope programs like these may help shift the dial on the traditional driver stereotypes and show that a career behind the wheel can be both fulfilling and rewarding.”

“We see time and time again in our own business that diverse teams thrive whether it be on the shop floor or in our own headquarters,”  Merrick added.

“To see that sort of diversity reflected in our future transport industry would be a fantastic outcome,” he said.

A total of 11 candidates from five transport companies and three states will be taking part in the Australian pilot program with the only prerequisites being that they’re employed by a transport company and have a desire to take on a driving role.

Companies taking part in the Iron Women program include Team Global Express, Southeast Queensland Hauliers, John West Logistics, JATEC and Nolan’s Interstate Transport. One fully funded spot was also offered to a Tasmanian based candidate.

“Wodonga TAFE is delighted to be a partner in the Volvo Trucks Iron Women Training Program,” said Wodonga TAFE  CEO, Phil Paterson.

 “This extends industry specific capability and support to women entering the road transport industry. A fantastic collaborative partnership underpinned by our joint commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse educational environment, equipping participants with the future skills for success in heavy vehicle industry,”  Paterson added.

Volvo says that two weeks of classroom theory will be followed by one week of on road heavy vehicle training at Wodonga TAFE’s Barnawartha Vic Logic Campus.

Iron Women participants will train in a Volvo FL Electric rigid and a counterweighted Volvo FH 500 I-Save prime mover.  

Guest speakers during the program will include, Melissa Weller from Heathy Heads in Trucks and Sheds, Heather Jones from Pilbara Heavy haulage Girls and Kerri Connors, a former tanker driver turned mental health advocate with rural and industry not-for-profit RAWTAS.