A 10-week program aiming to boost the number of truck drivers in the South West has come at the right time for a region booming in development, mining and agriculture. The State Government driver trainer initiative, which was announced on Tuesday in collaboration with South Regional TAFE, helps participants become job ready and address the dire need for drivers in the region. The regional-based training comes after a $6.1 million investment from the McGowan Government towards training workers to get more heavy machinery drivers on the road. The pilot program was introduced in Perth earlier this year with more than 100 students in the program, with 33 people from the first cohort successful in holding jobs in the industry. Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said the demand for truck driver training had skyrocketed due to the pandemic. “We have never relied more on truck divers than we have during COVID — the whole economic supply chain, a critical component of that is truck divers,” she said. “(This) is for people looking to uplift their skills, maybe who have been displaced during the pandemic or are looking for new work.” The course coincides with increased workforce demand created by projects including the Bunbury Outer Ring Road. Western Roads Federation chief executive Cam Dumesny said the expansion would greatly benefit Bunbury’s project development. “The number one question I get from transport companies ... is where are drivers, we needed them yesterday,” he said. “We have had an uplift in mining, we have a record harvest coming out in the agriculture sector, we have a stack of road projects the government had funded. “There is a whole demand of activity down here where employers are wanting to take students on.” Bunbury MLA Don Punch said the program combined training with actual job availabilities. “We hope that these individuals can progress into jobs on the Bunbury Outer Ring Road via sub-contractors,” he said.