Welcome to part two in our series on Volvo Group Australia’s report on the availability of professional truck drivers and how driver availability impacts the transport industry and Australian society.
As manufacturers of heavy equipment trailers, we understand first-hand that without trucks, Australia stops. It’s now more important than ever to address the shortage of professional truck drivers and create initiatives to engage a diverse driver workforce wishing to enter the progressive and dynamic trucking industry.
In case you missed it, part one in this series looked at how increasing demand and less drivers will stop Australia moving forward and looked at the current sample of Australian truck drivers.
In this article, we’ll be diving into the research report conducted by Volvo Group Australia and Clemenger BBDO on the reasons why driver image is such an issue in Australia and the initiatives to encourage new drivers into the industry.
Even though blue singlets are no longer the norm and transport operators and drivers are amongst the hardest working, professionals in Australia, the public’s perception remains outdated, basing their opinion on old behaviours. The negative stigmas of old are not reflective of the trucking industry today.
Approximately 88% of respondents believe there is a negative image of truck drivers in Australia, with 72% of them experiencing frustration with those outside the transportation industry. The overall feeling from those in the trucking industry is that mainstream media contributes to the negative image of truck drivers through cherry-picked and sensationalised stories.
“Everyone thinks truck drivers are cowboys and are unsafe on the roads” and “most Drivers have changed into professionals embracing new modern trucks” are just two of the hundreds of sentiments conveyed by industry professionals.
It’s a troubling image for all those who work in the industry as it contributes to an environment where employees feel a sense of shame about their type of work. Some of the accounts from workers supported this theory saying things such as “I am ridiculed or told that ‘you are better than that, re-educate” or “I have felt that you are looked at in a different way once you tell people what you do.”
Many believe that a thorough large-scale public campaign could educate the Australian public. It should highlight the key areas:
- How drivers of passenger vehicles can drive around trucks – be safe but not afraid
- How heavily we rely on trucks for our consumer and survival goods – from food to clothes
- The role trucking plays in the Australian economy
- A look into the statistics and a realistic view of the industry
The industry is keen to be recognised for its importance to the Australian economy, attract new drivers, better the safety and shift perceptions of the industry. Their solutions are focused at the government, industry and media.
- In-depth driver training, both through external learning programs and on-the-job training which is consistent with industry standard
- Driver empowerment and accountability
- Apprenticeship programs for school leavers
- Raise the profile of driving as a long-term career
- Prioritise pride in image through uniforms, aesthetic of trucks and recognising workers with public recognition
- Improving the work/life balance to attract a diverse workforce and offer hourly rates
- Reflection of current policies to identify better ways to support positive driver image and young entrants to the industry
- Consideration of reduction in red tape to allow for career flexibility for all drivers
- Encourage good news stories
- Discourage lazy journalism by engaging with the media on current statistics and industry insight
Investment in this arena will ensure Australia keeps moving forward. If your heavy transport trailers have seen better days, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade. Get in contact with The Drake Group today to learn about how our heavy equipment trailers can keep your business moving in the right direction.