Meet the next generation of line-haul drivers
WHILE Australia faces a line-haul truck driver shortage, Jim Pearson Transport has taken the initiative to cultivate its own.
"Qualified and experienced B-double drivers coming in off a job advertisement are less frequent these days," driver trainer Charles Knight said.
"But with this training program, we're able to grow our own team of competent drivers."
Mr Knight said the company was on the lookout for those with potential and a keen interest in becoming the next generation of line-haul drivers.
"They've got to have the right attitude and be prepared to listen, because our end goal is for them to become a competent B-double driver," he said.
The program, which runs for several months, begins with a driver knowledge test to determine their experience.
"We'll also take them for a test drive to see where their skill level is at so we can progress from there.
"Initially in their first week they'll do the induction and learn all the company policies and procedures. The next week they'll go out on the job with another driver trainer, who will teach them during that process.
"Once they're out on their own they will initially be out there towing a single trailer and we'll let them run with that for two-to-three months until their confidence is up there."
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Jim Pearson Transport has embraced a flexible training program by working with each trainee's skill level.
"We have someone who has no experience but wants the opportunity to start his career, so we employed him to wash the trucks in addition to the training," Mr Knight said.
"Each time he washes a truck, he's learning those fundamental skills of connecting and disconnecting trailers, reversing trucks into and out of the wash bay and so on.
"Next week, he'll be ready to go from a car to a HR licence; that will be his first truck licence."
Depots at Taree and Port Macquarie also provide opportunities for trainee drivers to refine their skills behind the wheel.
"We get them to hook up a trailer from the Grafton depot and transport it to the Port Macquarie or Taree depots, disconnect those trailers, reconnect another one, then come back," Mr Knight said.
"It's a really good opportunity for them because all they have to do is concentrate on their driving and work toward becoming a competent driver."
MEET THE NEW TRAINEES
The training is so different to what I'm used to. A lot of companies I've worked for, it's just sign this, sign this, now go to work, this one they're actually teaching you the right way to do things rather than letting you second-guess; if something isn't right or something's broken that you haven't checked because you didn't know to check it. That's where this training is really going to help me considering that I'm really new to the transport side of things. It's going really good.
I had my next-door neighbour come and approach me to tell me there was a position available so I came in and had a chat and they put me on. At the moment they're putting me through my HR course so I'll be going for my truck licence. I'd never driven a B-double until I came here and that's the good thing about coming here, I can get in heaps of practice, like reversing. The more I do it, the better I can get.
The best thing is, if you've never driven a truck before or say you've got your HR and you're ready to upgrade, they'll help upgrade you. But if you get sent from here to Brisbane you won't get sent there by yourself, you'll have a driver trainer with you for however long it takes until you're confident.