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Dec 11, 2023

Lifelong learning and the road to success

Lifelong learning and the road to success 

All Purpose Transport (APT) has been awarded the Large Employer of the Year award at the Australian Training Awards for their exceptional training program 'Project APT'. This marks their third recognition in just three months. Over the past 11 years, Project APT has helped more than 500 employees and owner-drivers to achieve formal qualifications, which is a truly remarkable achievement. 

This success story started in 2012 when APT embarked on a workforce development journey with a vision to revitalise its aging workforce and address industry challenges. A fortuitous meeting with a representative from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland set the wheels in motion, leading to the creation of a comprehensive training program with TAFE Queensland. 

Paul Kahlert, CEO of APT, recalls the inception, "We were presented with an exciting opportunity, and we realised we could elevate our entire workforce”. 

Belinda Polglase, APT’s Head of People and Safety put the program into an attraction and retention context, "The project we dubbed 'Project APT' aimed to attract and retain talent amidst a mining boom in Queensland. We didn't just want to do things the same old way; we wanted to innovate and create a unique selling point." 

APT faced a 'perfect storm' with an average worker age of 47 and trucking perceived as a second-choice career option. The training program became a tool for skills development and marketing, promising a qualified workforce to ensure safe, on-time, and undamaged freight delivery. 

As of 2023, the program has achieved an impressive 70% retention rate among owner-driver contractors. This figure is notable in the transient logistics industry. 

The program's inclusivity shone, with a significant percentage of the workforce comprising migrants, including refugees who gained formal qualifications. Communication, especially with non-native English speakers, was a hurdle that APT overcame with comprehensive training methods, including one-on-one sessions and multimedia tools. 

APT's foresight extended to technology adoption, as seen in their fleet's transition to electric vehicles. Migrant workers showed remarkable adaptability, embracing the new technology that APT supported with specialised training. 

The company also made strides in diversity, notably in operations and warehousing roles. While driving positions remained male-dominated, other areas saw a more balanced gender representation, attributed to technological advancements and the shift in required skill sets. Women now account for about 40% of the operations team, marking a significant demographic change. 

Personal growth stories within APT abound, with Paul and Belinda themselves representing long-term involvement and progression. They've climbed the ranks, steering the company towards interstate expansion and a national presence. 

Reflecting on the program's success, Paul states, "We've created better people and, consequently, a better business." 

Belinda concludes, "It's not just about work skills. It’s about personal growth. The training has helped our staff in life, fostering goal-setting and financial management, which, in turn, has strengthened our workforce community." 

APT's story is one of transformation and resilience, showcasing the power of strategic workforce development in the face of industry challenges. 

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