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How To Get Your Foot In the Door: Training Opportunities In Transport, Construction And Agriculture


Not a fan of working in an office? Whether you’re 20 and just out of university or 40 and looking for a career change, your next opportunity might just be in an industry you didn’t consider. The transport, construction or agriculture industries are booming in Australia and jobs are abundant with skill requirements that vary.

Approximately 58% of Australia is agricultural land - there are 394 million hectares of land that cultivates anything from wheat and barley to cattle and poultry, which increased by 6% from 2015. Transporting these goods from the farm to the market is the next step. As the number of registered heavy-vehicles is also increasing, having done so by 2.4% on average per annum, hitting the road has never been better! Yet population is growing and so is the requirement for infrastructure and building. The number of active projects is increasing by 2% each quarter.

These industries are integral to the Australian economy – it’s quite often heard around the country that “if trucks stop, Australia stops”. Along with a variety of study options available, there is bound to be something right for you. These industries, all together, have a lot to offer and a variety of study options.

Transport opportunities and the truck driver shortage

Australia is suffering a truck driver shortage. Opportunities are abundant in an area that is struggling to attract people. As applications for positions are available, the average age is increasing to over 50 (less than 15 per cent are under the age of 30). According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average age of the workforce will reach 65 by 2026. With predictions of the freight task set to double over the next ten year, the critical shortage is a huge opportunity for anyone looking to hit Australia’s wide-open road.

In May of 2018, Wodonga TAFE, Volvo Group Australia and Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) developed the Women Driving Transport Careers initiative, a pilot training program designed to help women obtain a heavy vehicle driver licence. The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews also pledged $4 million to help cover the training of 800 new heavy vehicle drivers in conjunction with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA).

This all begins with a Light Rigid Truck Licence (LR). This class of licence allows you to drive a light duty truck that lets you carry a load between 4.5 tonnes and up to 8 tonnes. This gets your foot in the door with businesses that operate in the transport sector.

What do you need to do drive a vehicle that is over 4.5 tonnes? To pass the licence test, you will need:

1. A current car driver’s licence

2. Have held the licence for the minimum required time for the heavy-vehicle category

3. Pass an eyesight test

4. Pass a heavy-vehicle knowledge test

5. Pass an on-road heavy-vehicle driving assessment

6. Pass an off-road heavy-vehicle skills assessment

7. Complete a formal training course

8. Meet national medical standards for private and commercial vehicle drivers

9. Pay the licence fee

Your LR licence is just the start. From there you have the medium rigid (MR), heavy rigid (HR), heavy combination (HC), and multi combination (MC). The type of truck you’re required to drive could require a different class of licence and will require you to work your way up.

To help you get a licence and a job within the industry, there are ample training courses available across Australia offering everything from personalised training and hourly lessons to courses and refresher trainings for all licence classes. Ensuring that the training course is provided by an accredited training company is also important. For those wanting further education a government subsidised truck training courses available for full qualifications as defined by the national training standards , courses can cover valuable practical and theoretical skills in training exercises, driver safety, and more. With a broad industry like transport, there’s plenty of opportunities to progress your career and move upwards or sideways into new roles.

The shortage isn’t a problem faced in Australia alone, as Europe and North America’s driver crisis is worsening. Germany alone lacks 45,000 drivers with this number reaching a possible 200,000 in the future. Transport is often seen as the backbone of the economy and the foundation of the quality of life, and while digitisation has helped improve efficiencies, Australian needs drivers. Turn your love for driving and road trips into a career - you would be paid to see Australia’s unique landscapes, and even capture some great photography along the way.

The construction boom and you

Australia’s construction industry is booming. It’s also one of the largest sectors with commercial construction work expected to increase by 9.3%. The industry will continue to demand a larger share of its current 8% cut of the GDP, which means it will employ more people and contribute more to the economy.

While technology in construction has helped, leading to a 2.8% increase in productivity and a $25 billion in savings per annum, people power is still high in demand. Ditching the cubicle and getting hands on with the other 1.1 million people employed in the construction industry could be just the change needed. Luckily, there are a number of ways to get in and a number of steps you could take.

The first step? Plan plan plan! Depending on the position, a bit of research goes a long way. Figuring out exactly what roles are available based on experience levels and skills helps to determine what you want to enter the construction field as. You could also get your thinking cap on. Many positions require a diploma or certificate, while other more skilled positions may require a degree. With courses available online, it’s a great place to begin. For example, a Certificate III in Carpentry combined with job experience, it’s a solid base.

From there, it’s a matter of working your way up. Australia is built upon starting a career via apprenticeships, especially when considering the youth. While this might not be an applicable option for all, it’s an eligible way to get into carpentry, electrical and more. But if you have some years under your belt already, you may very well be better off! Pursuing higher-level roles within the industry, such as site supervisor, construction manager or construction planner.

With growth comes opportunity. In Victoria alone, over 42,000 homes are built in each year. As Australia’s population grows by 1.6% each year, urban areas are growing fast, and construction and infrastructure work has been steadily increasing. Whatever are you choose, the constant evolution of the construction industry means there are many paths to go down.

Agriculture in Australia

Australia is a major agricultural producer and exporter, with over 325,000 people employed in the industry and its commodities including livestock, crops, horticulture and more. Earning $155 billion a year for a 12% share of the GDP, the industry has its work cut out, especially in Queensland that has the highest proportion of agricultural land. Like transport, the average age of those working across all areas of agriculture is 57 years old, there are plenty of opportunities to train and enter into the agricultural industry.

With the boom in agriculture, there are approximately five jobs for each graduate in Australia. Certificate and diploma courses and bachelor degrees can help you take part in a career in anything from dairy farming and livestock production, to horticulture and harvesting specialities. With hands on take on life, the opportunities are there. But if that’s not quite the right choice, there are ample managerial and administrative positions in and around the agriculture industry – business related sales, science in produce, and more.

Completing a course can help graduates with a diverse range of skill areas including: animal welfare, soil management, livestock reproduction, land sustainability management, livestock handling/feeding/health, anatomy and physiology, as well as rural health and safety. With certificate courses ranging from 12-18 months and bachelor degrees covering the better of 3 or 4 years to complete, all options are available to make an immediate impact and give an excellent pathway to get your hands dirty in the industry.

Yet with so many areas, sectors and commodities available to work in, you must first decide whether you’re interested in animals, growing crops, working with raw materials, or tech and machinery. Second, think about your personality traits. Are you innovative and creative? Are you a people person? For example, if you’re interested in animals and are a people person, you might enjoy working in dairy farming, sheep shearing, breeding or racing industries. With a forward-thinking attitude and putting in the hard work, long hours and elbow grease, working in agriculture is a rewarding pathway.

The traditional stereotypes and view on the industries at large are changing. With laws in place to help ensure everyone gets home at night, it’s a future worth investing in. Agriculture, construction and transport are broad in job roles they offer, and the skills they require. Whether you’re leaving school or changing careers, there is bound to be something right for you. Expectations are rising as jobs in construction are set to increase by 3% in 2018 , the transport task set to double and agriculture demands rising with population growth. Now’s the time!

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