Established in 1975, All Purpose Transport is a 100% family owned business based in Brisbane. Its specialised transport solutions include refrigeration, heavy vehicle transport, couriers, furniture removals, warehousing and 3PL.
With 100 per cent staff commitment to training and development and a swag of awards for the same, All Purpose Transport (APT) proves it has the drive to succeed.
APT, a Queensland road carrier, wanted to double its revenue in 10 years and, in 2012, rolled out new information technologies in working towards that target.
However, the new IT highlighted skills shortfalls in staff and owner-drivers. At APT’s annual conference, the management team said they would commit to training, and within a week 100 per cent of their workers had committed to the program.
Comprehensive program of skilling the entire workforce including owner drivers in their area of specialisation.
More than 90 per cent of 174 workers, from sub-contractors to site staff, entry level to executive, have achieved Certificates III and IV, diplomas and advanced diplomas in skills critical to road transport, warehousing and logistics.
The training is being co-funded under the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF), which was brokered by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC), who also developed the national qualifications.
Belinda Polglase says applying to TLISC for the NWDF “was a very easy process. It wasn’t cumbersome at all. Certainly, without it we wouldn’t have been able to fund this.”
APT’s commitment to upskilling was recognised as the winner of the Innovation and Excellence in Workforce Development Award – Logistics and Warehousing at the 2013 TLISC Awards for Excellence. They were also highly commended in TLISC’s Road Transport and Return on Investment in Skills categories.
The prize APT eyes long term is the ability to attract and retain quality staff and “blue chip” customers as an employer of choice through training programs.
“We go straight for the best people and business,” says general manager Paul Kahlert. “If the best applicant doesn’t have qualifications, then we’ll get them qualifications.” Adds project manager Belinda Polglase: “They don’t have to have qualifications before they join us. It’s something we’re willing to do for them.”
New workers have six months to get “All Purpose-ised” before they are eligible for training and development, Kahlert says. “Enthusiasm and intelligence: these are the things you go for first,” he says, adding work experience third to the list. Like many in the sector, the company has an ageing workforce: Kahlert estimates the median age of APT workers is 47, with limited years left in heavy transport.
Kahlert says the company’s older demographic has also been skewed by workers who join not from school, but as a “second career” after other blue-collar trades.
“So what we want to do is say to all of our store and office staff, hey, join us from school, join us on a journey, we’ll develop you,” on a career pathway, he says.
For older workers, qualifications also have many attractions. “Every driver has been independently assessed by a third party saying here is a formal qualification and that’s a lot better for them from an insurance point of view,” Kahlert says.
“I also saw one driver who took the Certificate home to show the kids, so that might spark the child to go, hey, maybe I should be in transport and logistics.”
Kahlert says there’s already been a shift in company perceptions. For drivers, “we’d be lucky to get two or three applications; we’re now getting 10s and 20s.”
Applications for on-site roles have jumped from 20 to more than 100, with those shortlisted attending interviews in business attire, he marvels. “And there’s been feedback they enquired because they heard about the training,” Polglase adds.
APT has up-skilled 260 workers with a nationally recognised Qualification, from Certificates III through to Advanced Diploma.
APT engaged three trainers, one each for business, warehousing/logistics, and drivers, Polglase says. In line with APT’s kinetic nature, there was no classroom learning: all training was delivered on site in the warehouse or a truck cab.
“We wanted to sell the idea that we wouldn’t put you in a classroom because a lot people get a cringe about it,” Kahlert says. “If we said, go sit in the corner on a stack of pallets – fantastic, I’m with my peers, I’m not getting treated differently.”
APT activity accounts for about four per cent of the Queensland market, Kahlert estimates. However, they’ve secured national “blue chip” clients, such as IKEA, BP and Target.
“We are a Queensland-only company and these are customers that traditionally use national carriers,” Kahlert says. “So for us to keep them, what was our unique selling point? Was it that we deliver everything on time? That’s what everyone promises. Do we deliver in full? Yes, so does everyone … But we could go to them and say, hey, we’ve got all of our people trained to a minimum standard, which is Certificate III or higher, and no one else in Australia can make
“That’s a unique selling point. The only thing you’ve got is your people. Everyone has trucks, but we’re focused on people because that’s the thing that’s different.”
Total value of NWDF program to date: $358,345