Global waste management group, Averda, has opened up opportunities for women truck drivers through its Professional Driver Learnership Programme (PDLP).

The programme is part of the group’s initiative to address a skills shortage of qualified and compliant heavy-duty vehicle drivers, particularly in the Western Cape.

“We employ the best people where we operate, and we draw on global expertise to enable skills transfer. We operate a state-of-the-art fleet and use leading software, processes, and systems to enable the full capacity of our people and assets.

“The successful delivery of service and operations is paramount to Averda,”said Granville Rex, Head of Human Resources, Averda South Africa.

The company’s PDLP was established with two goals in mind; to upskill employees and potential recruits and to address skill shortages in some of Averda’s operational areas.

Since 2016, the company’s recruitment strategy has evolved to significantly increase its efforts to include female candidates in the company’s PDLP.

“What initially started out as a pilot project confirmed the company’s belief that women have a major role to play in operating heavy duty vehicle in the waste management environment.” said Rex. “The programme was launched not only as a result of female interest in the industry, but to also ensure a more diverse, skilled workforce.

“It further develops the skillset of our recruits and employees. The results of the programme have yielded more benefits to the company such as less accidents and a more efficient activity.”

Collette Gobey, one of Averda’s recently appointed female heavy-duty vehicle drivers, says that she has always been fascinated by the possibility of being a woman truck driver in a field mostly dominated by men.

“I started driving my dad’s car at 17 when I obtained my learners license. The independence feeling that driving gave me grew with me and with it grew my admiration to big trucks driving, so I made it my goal. I first obtained my code B driver’s license, followed by code 14, which then gave me the opportunity to join Averda.”

Averda intends recruiting unemployed women; and enrolling them in the programme, after which each driver with her deployed crew will take ownership of a vehicle and a dedicated operational round.

For the 2017 financial year, the PLDP should be able to provide 20 qualified and compliant heavy-duty vehicle drivers, of which at least 7 positions (35%) will be dedicated to female drivers.