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 crucial 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.


There is a  common misconception that 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.


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


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 recognises these issues, and that the establishment of an apprenticeship is not a panacea that will 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.




In this four-part video Q and A, listen to our Director of IRC Operations, Klausch Schmidt, and Mark McKenzie, Chair of the Transport and Logistics Industry Reference Committee as they discuss the merits of the Heavy Vehicle Driver Apprenticeship and how this could be a potential game changer in addressing driver shortages in Australia.



The journey so far...

In August 2021 the Transport & Logistics Industry Reference Committee (IRC) tasked Australian Industry Standards (AIS) with early research and consultation to define the parameters and jurisdictional process for establishing an apprenticeship for the heavy vehicle driving occupation and to determine actions required to ensure the proposal had widespread industry support. The initial primary and secondary research was integrated into a Concept Paper to assess and determine the merits of moving forward with the apprenticeship initiative. After analysis and debate of the various benefits and challenges presented along with the significant support of industry, the Transport and Logistics IRC endorsed the concept, and requested AIS to examine the feasibility of establishing an apprenticeship model for heavy vehicle drivers.


The findings of this work were documented in a Consultation Paper and circulated to industry stakeholders with a view to assessing industry support for this proposal. The consultation was undertaken in September and October 2021 and included a national webinar on 8 October 2021, providing an opportunity for all stakeholders to discuss the proposal and provide input via a range of communication modes. The webinar had 190 attendees (260 people registered) and more that 100 questions were submitted with more than 30 responses (oral and written) provided during the session.

The extensive industry consultation process indicated widespread industry support for the apprenticeship proposal from Transport and Logistics stakeholders while also identifying potential challenges and concerns. Overall, there was a positive response to the apprenticeship model for heavy vehicle drivers and this resulted in the IRC issuing a Communique supporting the proposal on 1 November 2021.


The IRC Communique discusses the nature of the feedback received and articulates the next steps in the professionalisation journey. It contains the following Key Points:

  • The level of industry engagement on this issue was the highest of any consultation conducted by the Transport & Logistics Industry Reference Committee in many years.
  • There is very strong industry support for the professionalisation of the Heavy Vehicle Driver occupation via an apprenticeship model with many industry stakeholders arguing that such an approach has the potential to change community perceptions about the occupation, potentially assisting with the attraction of younger people to the profession in the future.
  • At its meeting on 21 October 2021, and after considering all the stakeholder feedback received, the IRC recommended that a national apprenticeship be established by utilising the existing Certificate III in Driving Operations (TLI 31221).
  • The IRC noted that this action will not be the solution to the significant labour force challenges currently being experienced within the heavy vehicle sector but believe the establishment of a national apprenticeship for this occupation to be an important ‘first step’ in addressing this issue.

The IRC’s recommendation was accompanied by a directive to investigate further any implementation challenges and seek out the extent of State and Territory support for an apprenticeship. AIS subsequently engaged with State Training, Authorities, ITABs and Industry Councils while concurrently consulting with T&L sub sectors, insurers, regulators and licensing bodies.


The outcome of this further consultation and engagement was presented to the IRC members at their 8 December 2021 Committee meeting to consider and determine next steps. This meeting provided validation of high-level industry support for the establishment of an apprenticeship for heavy vehicle drivers aligned to the Certificate III in Driving Operations (TLI 31221) with some challenges remaining to defined and addressed. At this meeting, the IRC confirmed their commitment to initiate processes to establish a Heavy Vehicle Driving Apprenticeship where feasible in collaboration with the State Training Authorities and their industry advisory bodies.


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.


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