Driver in­sti­tute opened

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Louise Alling­ham

Pil­bara Heavy Haulage Girls are start­ing a na­tional heavy ve­hi­cle driver in­sti­tute.

The in­sti­tute will be the first of its kind in Aus­tralia and will teach truck driv­ers new to the in­dus­try es­sen­tial skills for the job.

Aim­ing to be up and run­ning in the next few months, the trainee­ship al­ready has 500 peo­ple on its wait­ing list.

PHHG chief ex­ec­u­tive Heather Jones said the in­sti­tute was a prepa­ra­tion for life in the trans­port in­dus­try.

“At the mo­ment when you get your li­cence there’s no train­ing af­ter that, so your li­cence ul­ti­mately gives you the part to steer the truck and that’s it, but ev­ery­thing be­hind it you have to learn on the job,” she said.

“(Peo­ple will learn about) chang­ing a tyre, chain­ing a load down, how to get the weights right on your axles — be­cause if you don’t get your weights right it dam­ages the road and there’s huge fines for the driv­ers that you have to pay and you don’t even know about when you get your li­cence.”

PHHG works to en­cour­age and sup­port women tak­ing up heavy ve­hi­cle driv­ing careers, but the train­ing will be open to males and fe­males start­ing out in the trans­port in­dus­try.

Dur­ing his visit to Kar­ratha at the be­gin­ning of this month, Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Terry Red­man an­nounced $290,310 of fund­ing for PHHG to fit out a train­ing room and for op­er­a­tions.

The fund­ing is part of the Pil­bara De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion’s Pil­bara Cities Eco­nomic Di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion Fund.

PDC act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Tr­ish Bar­ron said the in­sti­tute would have many ben­e­fits for Kar­ratha.

“Kar­ratha is a prac­ti­cal en­vi­ron­ment to train driv­ers and al­lows them to gain the ex­pe­ri­ence, skills and knowl­edge needed in the heavy ve­hi­cle in­dus­try and work­force,” she said.

“Lo­cat­ing the in­sti­tute in Kar­ratha will lever­age ex­per­tise from the lo­cal work­force, while also cre­at­ing new jobs and at­tract­ing stu­dents to the re­gion.”

LandCorp has given PHHG a leased block in Gap Ridge and Volvo Group Aus­tralia has do­nated two new trucks for the in­sti­tute.

“It’s nearly a mil­lion dol­lars worth of equip­ment, so they can see the ben­e­fit in what we’re do­ing,” Ms Jones said.

Mr Red­man and Pil­bara MP Bren­don Grylls gave a new ve­hi­cle a spin dur­ing a site visit.

“It was so lovely be­cause it was ob­vi­ously a while since they’ve driven and these are beau­ti­ful, sta­teof-the-art, fully au­to­matic, amaz­ing ma­chines,” Ms Jones said.

She said she ap­pre­ci­ated the sup­port from Mr Grylls and Mr Red­man, who both have their truck li­cences. “When you’re talk­ing to some­one who un­der­stands what’s needed you don’t have to bash your head — you ac­tu­ally have some­one who un­der­stands one, the prob­lem we’ve had, and two, that this is the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem.”

Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Terry Red­man and Pil­bara Heavy Haulage Girls chief ex­ec­u­tive Heather Jones. Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

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