13/11/2007 - 22:00

Growing business: Transport training has youth focus

13/11/2007 - 22:00

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With the volume of freight within Western Australia likely to double in the next five to 10 years as major resources projects come on stream, an innovative new training program is aiming to attract more young people into the industry.

With the volume of freight within Western Australia likely to double in the next five to 10 years as major resources projects come on stream, an innovative new training program is aiming to attract more young people into the industry.

Faced with a lack of skilled candidates to fill positions, Belmont-based company WA Driver Recruitment introduced a new business, Logistic Placements, to introduce school leavers into the workforce through the transport and logistics industry.

Managing director Terry Snell said the industry was beginning to reach a crisis point, evidenced by the growing number of transport companies in WA either rationalising or closing down.

He said the failure of the industry to promote itself as an employer of choice, and the lack of investment by transport companies in their people, had led to the dire situation.

“We came to the realisation that unless we started training people we were going to run out of people to recruit,” he told WA Business News.

“We understand recruiting better than most, and we also understand the transport and logistics industry.”

In May 2006, the company launched its program, offering school leavers the chance to receive paid training incorporating both theory and practical placements with a host company one day a week.

After 12 months, the students also receive a nationally recognised qualification, and are given the opportunity to continue their careers with their host companies.

“We wanted to target young kids who don’t want to be academics but who want a career,” Mr Snell said.

“We’ve made the mistake that we’ve never formalised any skills.

“We realised we had to turn an unprofessional industry [in terms of lack of skills recognition] into a professional industry.”

In its first year, the program secured 48 individuals aged 17-19, with 30 of these completing the course.

All of the graduates were offered full-time positions with their host companies, with some achieving starting salaries of up to $60,000 a year.

Three graduates have also reached supervisor level after just one year.

Mr Snell said the program had received financial support from the federal government, and strong support from the industry.

He said each host company was specifically chosen for its commitment to ongoing investment in their staff, and not just for a cheap and easy quick fix.

“A lot of companies out there use kids as cheap labour. The companies we supply are looking for their future workforce,” Mr Snell said.

After 30 years in the transport sector, Mr Snell believes the industry needs to change its attitude towards staff, highlighting the need to incorporate training, procurement and retention into budgets and not just focus on cost cutting.

The transport and logistics industry is one of the biggest employment sectors in the state, employing about 9 per cent of the workforce.

The second year of the program is due to commence in January, and Mr Snell is hopeful that it will attract more student numbers than last year. He has also received an overwhelming response from companies wanting to take students on board.

“If we don’t have people to recruit, we have to make them,” Mr Snell said.

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