Blue Tongue takes east-west approach

24/11/2014 - 10:11

Not long after Melbourne-based Blue Tongue was launched in 2001 its founder, Tully Young, recognised that Western Australia had a transport industry skills shortage – so he moved himself and almost half his business to Perth.

Blue Tongue takes east-west approach
OPPORTUNITY COST: Tully Young says the industry’s cyclical nature is a major challenge. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Not long after Melbourne-based Blue Tongue was launched in 2001 its founder, Tully Young, recognised that Western Australia had a transport industry skills shortage – so he moved himself and almost half his business to Perth.

Mr Young said since establishing what he claims is a unique up-skilling model for heavy diesel truck mechanics about three years ago, the program now made up 80 per cent of his total business.

In the past two years, Blue Tongue has up-skilled 160 car mechanics, mostly from Sydney, as heavy diesel mechanics to get jobs in WA.

Mr Young said a small labour pool in in WA, and a surplus of east coast mechanics keen to make the move, had proved the business case.

The alternative was trucking companies hiring and up-skilling their own workers, something Mr Young said required a longer-term approach that was often lacking.

“For them to recreate that from scratch is extremely difficult, so (us) having a workforce planning capability allows them to leverage off that,” Mr Young told Business News.

Car mechanics in Sydney who join the program go from earning about $50,000 a year to $85,000-$145,000 in WA, depending on what shifts they get.

Through a combination of state and federal grants and payments from clients such as McAleese Group and subsidiary Cootes Transport Group, Blue Tongue invests in 15 months of training to up-skill the mechanics.

This is done partly with registered training organisations and also through on the job training with clients, who later hire them.

Mr Young said Blue Tongue’s biggest challenge was the cyclical nature of the industry.

“We’re trying to say to our clients, even if you can get people right now, don’t have a short-term approach,” he said. The same dynamics are there, commit, partner and you’ll get a much better outcome over time.”

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