Training next generation of truck drivers
SHE'S only been on the job for four weeks, but truckie Sarah-Jane Collins couldn't be happier.
She's one of the newest members of the Divall's Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage team in Goulburn, who learned the ropes thanks to brothers Andy and Mick Divall.
It was a Facebook post that prompted the 32-year-old self-described "country bumpkin" and "revhead" to go for a new career change.
"I used to work in a cafe but this (getting my truck licence) was something that I always wanted to do but never had the chance," she said.
So she applied for the program organised by the Goulburn brothers and was one of the 12 women successful.
"It's just awesome," she said of her new job.
"It's actually awesome. I was in a cafe and now I'm going around meeting different people and seeing all of the scenery.
"And plus I get to drive a Kenworth!"
While she had driven trucks before out on the farm, the trucks she was driving now were nothing compared to that.
"I'd driven a grain truck before out on the farm," she said.
"It was totally different to what I'm driving now.
"They taught me how to use the double clutch and we've learnt now to not crunch it.
"But I've been told that you still crunch it sometimes, even when you've been driving for a long time."
Sarah-Jane said she was used to working in a male-dominated industry thanks to her experience motorbike racing.
"I've been well respected since I started working," she said.
"I did a job out at council and they didn't treat me any differently. I was just another truckie."
Sarah-Jane said she loved life on the road so much she would tell everyone she could about it.
"I've got two mates who drive fuel tankers and everyone I see I tell them to go get their truck licence."
Andy Divall said their initiative was born out of the shortage of new truck drivers coming into the industry.
He said there was never a shortage of experienced drivers, but the problem was with attracting new drivers into the industry.
"The only solution is to train new drivers," he said.
"Whether they're girls or guys, we need to keep training drivers."
So he and his brother came up with the idea of sponsoring 12 women to help them gain their heavy vehicle licences.
Andy said all costs associated were remunerated by Divall's and they supported them through the process.
Each recipient received training with an accredited assessor, who was responsible for developing the skills required to operate a heavy vehicle.
"It cost me $1,400 each and if we get one success, I'll be happy," Andy said.
He said Sarah-Jane started working for him, while another trainee was in the Northern Territory working on a station.
"They really enjoyed learning," he said.
Andy, who has been a truckie for about 30 years, said he loved the pace of the job.
"I love the opportunities and the people," he said.
"And I like employing people who like being employed.
"We go to schools and encourage kids to look at the trucking industry for work and we take the young ones out with us and show them what they can learn."
But, more often than not, Andy said he was met with blank stares from the children he visited and sometimes heard from teachers instead who wanted to give it a go.
"I think the young kids listen to their parents and their parents have painted a bad image of our industry," he said.
"So we've got to get to the parents and change perceptions."