Forklift operators are predicted to be in high demand this year. (PHOTO: AUSFORK)
Forklift operators are in high demand as warehouses and distribution centres keep up with consumer demand for domestic and imported goods.
Australian employment website SEEK includes 'forklift operator' in its Top 5 of hot jobs for 2016, where employment growth - measured through advertising volumes - is expected to grow in double digits.
After front-end programmer, carpenter and site manager, the humble forklift driver ranked fourth in SEEK's list, with a 33% year-on-year growth in job ads expected for this year.
"Forklift drivers are also riding the e-commerce wave, as distribution centres rely on them to keep abreast of the fulfillment of growing domestic and international online shopping trends," SEEK says.
David Kelleher, a supply chain trainer at Mt Druitt TAFE college in NSW, tells Forkliftaction.com News
employers are looking for operators with an extensive knowledge of both counterbalance and high-reach trucks.
"Because of the high value of real estate in our capital cities, most warehouse and distribution centres are built for maximum capacity, within sometimes confined areas, and forklift drivers need to have a high level of skills and awareness of the areas in which they work."
He adds that drivers need to be aware of their responsibilities and duties when operating equipment and conducting "high risk work". "This is constantly under review by the regulator in each state."
Kelleher says TAFE Western Sydney Institute courses provide extensive theoretical and practical training that addresses all the skills, responsibilities and duties required by forklift drivers. "Safe Work NSW-accredited assessors also conduct the final forklift HRW (high-risk work) licence assessments."
Salisbury, Queensland-based logistics trainer Steve Nevin says he is not surprised that forklift drivers are in SEEK's hot jobs list.
"As the logistics industry undergoes massive growth, the demand for good operators is high," he says, flagging concerns about expectations that heighten the level of risk and potential incidents.
"A good forklift operator needs to be able to know his equipment's capabilities and its dangers. Incorrect operation of forklifts has the ability to kill or seriously injure pedestrians/bystanders and even the operator.
"The operator needs to have a certain care factor to ensure his equipment is in good working order and also the stock he is moving is not damaged while in his care.
"In summary, I believe the forklift operator is the most undervalued member of the team; and the forklift itself is the most unappreciated piece of equipment in the shed."
Nevin cautions: "Remember you are in charge of a piece of equipment that has the potential to kill."
Australian Warehousing Association president Bill Henman says the demand for forklift operators [by businesses] ebbs and flows, "dependent on the month of the year or when a special need is required".
"With over 130,000 forklift licences issued each year, forklift operation is a good skill and licence to have," he says.
Henman adds that in the past, employers were prepared to train and license a new employee and bear the cost. "Today, labour hire companies will only put an applicant on their books on the condition they have a current forklift licence."
Do you have what it takes to be a forklift operator? Henman suggests going through this checklist.
- Can identify the various components of a forklift as part of a 'pre-operational check'.
- Knowledge of how a warehouse, freight depot or manufacturing facility operates.
- Good eye and hand co-ordination skills to operate forklift controls.
- Good knowledge and use of PPE (personal protective equipment).
- Awareness of the types of paperwork used by organisations to load, unload or move products.
- Some knowledge of dangerous goods.
- Be able to estimate the weight of goods being handled.
- Ability to change gas bottles or put a forklift on charge.
- Knowledge of OHS/WHS requirements such as duty of care or chain of responsibility.
Check out Forkliftaction.com's job board
for forklift operator vacancies in your area.