Summit tackles driver shortage
WA unites to combat statewide crisis
WEST Australian industry bosses have taken a significant step forward in addressing the state’s mounting driver shortage with an emergency summit meeting in Perth.
Western Roads Federation CEO Cam Dumesny said he was heartened by the way all sectors came together in one room, along with the Transport Workers Union, to hash out solutions.
Many issues were discussed as roadblocks to recruitment, including pay rates and on-road enforcement, which were widely accepted as being “out of whack with reality” and disproportionate to the nature of the actual offence.
But generally speaking, there was a consensus that the WA industry needed to get back to grassroots to deal with the dilemma.
“We’re just not attracting people out of schools; we’re not attractive as an industry – we need to address that,” said Mr Dumesny.
He said there also now needs to be a fresh look at how to train would-be drivers.
“You read all the online comments and people are saying, ‘Well, I’ve gone and got a licence but everyone says I need five years’ experience, well how do I get five years’ experience’? That’s a fair point.
“Then how do we retain them, and finally, how do we give people a graceful exit out of the industry?
“They may have hurt their back, arm or shoulder, or maybe getting a bit long in the tooth. How do we give them a job where we recognise their actual expertise and accommodate where they’re at.
“Maybe they become good traffic wardens, or pilots, things like that.”
Mr Dumesny said it was especially pleasing to see how co-operative the industry could be when it wanted to.
By way of example, he cited the way courier and agitator drivers at the summit suggested that they’re probably a good entry point for people into the heavy vehicle sector.
“So if we work together as industry we may be able to find some solutions,” he said.
Mr Dumesny said the next step was to sit down with a working group and come up with some actions the WA industry advocates could take to government for assistance.
“We need to come up with a roadmap of how do we address the issues: how do we attract, how do we train them, how do we retain them and how do we maintain them at the end,” he said.
“It’s a comprehensive solution. We’re not going to solve it overnight, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”
He also added that Western Australia had to solve the shortage issue itself this time rather than recruit from elsewhere.
“Last time we had a boom, we took drivers from the east coast and New Zealand to keep us going. They’re busy over on the east now so we’re going to have to recruit internally from WA and we’re going to have to train them,” he said.
“We can’t just keep relying on others; we’ve got to do this ourselves this time.”
❝ We’re not going to solve it overnight, but we’ve got to start somewhere. — Cam Dumesny
WHEELS TURNING: The summit agreed the shortage must be solved within WA rather than by recruiting outsiders.