Tamworth is short "at least" 40 or 50 truck drivers, and it's costing local business money.
But Tamworth truck driving contractors hope a new educational tool could help fill a shortage in local employees.
That's according to Director of McCulloch Bulk Haulage Michael McCulloch.
"We're very short of drivers at the moment. You can run an ad on Seek or on local webpages and not get a driver apply. That's how bad it is," he said.
"We hope we don't have to resort to importing drivers, that's where we're at."
It's hoped the solution could come in the form of a new high-tech simulator.
Tamworth Transport Supply Chain Cluster, which represents local trucking companies, has teamed up with NSW TAFE to bring a new high-tech heavy vehicle simulator to the city.
It simulates the driver's cabin of a long-haul vehicle.
Drivers can take off on journeys in a variety of different settings, including a version of Sydney, and the technology simulates a wide range of road dangers; everything from pedestrians to snow. A second controller can add road crises, like blown tyres or failed brakes, to see how the driver would respond in an emergency.
Bree Gowland, Financial Controller at Parry Logistics, said they hoped the new tool would prove a high-tech solution for the shortage.
"We are always looking for drivers, so hopefully this will be the initiative that gets people to have a look at the industry and really sort of put a foot in the door I guess," he said.
He agreed the city is short "at least" 50 fewer truck drivers and had been forced to turn away work as a result.
The simulator was itself transported to Tamworth in the back of a truck.
Graeme Moat, TAFE NSW Head Teacher Supply Chain said the equipment could help train drivers of all skill levels.
"We've had 10 year old kids driving in here all the way up to seasoned veterans, who've been driving for longer than I've been alive," he said.
The simulator has seen use by 3,500 people so far, but he wants to triple that number.
"Everyone. I would take this to schools, we've taken it to the Dalgety Agriculture Show, we've done Melrose Park public school. We want everyone to be involved."
Mr McCulloch said the industry has to try something to sort out the skills shortage.
"We had stages from November to now that there were three or four trucks parked in the yard a week [due to lack of staff], which was no good," he said.
"Most drivers earn between 100 and 150 grand a year. There's some really good jobs in Tamworth like some jobs that you're home every night, and not many truck driving jobs are like that. There is jobs in Tamworth like that.
"We would have knocked back more work than we've done, put it that way."
Australian Industry Standards data supports the evidence the trucking industry is facing a nationwide shortage of heavy vehicle drivers, with more than 80 per cent of employers experiencing a skills shortage in 2018 and 2019.
People interested in trying out the equipment will need to be screened, do some paperwork and be available on either Wednesday, May 12, Thursday, 13 or Friday 14 May.
Anybody interested is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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