The Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee (IRC) is proposing a new Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship in response to industry’s call to professionalise the Heavy Vehicle Driver occupation. The apprenticeship will address driver shortages across Australia, create career pathways and ensure the safety of those working in the industry and all other road users.


The road transport industry plays a vital role in ensuring the safe, productive, and environmentally sound movement of goods and services throughout Australia. The attraction of new entrants and the retention of professional heavy vehicle operators is a critical strategy for the achievement of these goals – and the establishment of a national apprenticeship is considered to be long overdue.


The common misconception is road transport operators simply ‘drive a truck’. In reality, they are a profession that is integral to the achievement of the Transport Industry’s broader environmental, economic and social (i.e., safety) obligations to the Australian community.


In the wake of the COVID experience that has shone a light on the vital role played by road transport in supporting the Australian economy, the IRC believes that now is the time to create a national Heavy Vehicle Driver apprenticeship. Such a move is a necessary first step towards raising the profile of the professionalism of the Australian road transport driver workforce in line with the significance and vital standing of the industry within the overall national economy.


It is the belief that the creation of this apprenticeship will help mitigate some challenges, particularly in relation to the national heavy vehicle licensing system and the current utilisation of national traineeships.


The IRC acknowledges these issues and that the establishment of an apprenticeship will not solve all the current workforce challenges facing the road transport industry.


Rather, the creation of a national apprenticeship for heavy vehicle drivers constitutes the first significant step towards the professionalisation of the road transport industry in Australia.


The likely journey is summarised in the diagram below.


Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship Webinar

Watch the webinar on the Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship hosted by Paul Walsh, CEO of Australian Industry Standards and featuring Panel Members Lynda Douglas, Cathi Andrews, Peter Anderson and Mark McKenzie.


Hear firsthand about the key issues considered by the Panel and their takeaway message for stakeholders throughout this extremely important conversation.


To view the webinar, click here.



The IRC has developed an Industry Consultation Paper that outlines the case for a Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship.

The purpose of the paper is two-fold:

  • To provide a high-level assessment of the current ‘industry’ challenges associated with the establishment of a national apprenticeship for heavy vehicle drivers in Australia and identify possible strategies for redress of these issues.
  • To assess whether the current national training standards and qualifications that apply to heavy vehicle drivers are sufficient to support the requirements of a national apprenticeship and the possible options for achievement of same.

Accordingly, the IRC is now seeking to understand whether there is a sufficient appetite within the road transport industry for the creation of an Apprenticeship. It is also seeking feedback on whether the benefits and implementation considerations canvassed in the Discussion Paper are both accurate and comprehensive.

The IRC is therefore interested in hearing the views of the road transport industry (and other stakeholders) in respect of:

  • the merit or otherwise of introducing a national heavy vehicle driver apprenticeship
  • the issues that will need to be considered as part of the implementation of any national heavy vehicle driver apprenticeship with specific reference to the two pathways that have been identified, namely:
    • Licence pathway: The mature age pathway where the candidate either has a heavy vehicle licence or is eligible to obtain one during the course of the apprenticeship, or
    • School Leaver pathway: The school leaver pathway where the candidate does not yet have a heavy vehicle licence and is limited by the age/time-based restrictions currently in place.

The IRC appreciates views submitted on the Industry Consultation Paper. Feedback submissions closed on Friday, 15 October 2021.


More information

Further information in respect of this consultation can be obtained by contacting the following officers of Australian Industry Standards who act as the secretariat for the Transport and Logistics IRC:


Klausch Schmidt

Director of IRC Operations


Email: [email protected]

Phone: 03 9604 7223

Mobile: 0417 568 967



Ron Horne

Industry Skills Manager - Rail & Transport and Logistics




Email: [email protected]

Phone: 03 9604 7232

Mobile: 0448 166 536