Australia, Companies, Features, Forklifts, Logistics, Supply Chain

TMHA welcomes forklift apprentices

The 19 successful applicants will be employed at TMHA branches across Australia. Image: Toyota Material Handling Australia.

Toyota Material Handling Australia has welcomed one of its biggest crops of Toyota forklift technician apprentices since 2007. TMHA National Manager, Gerry Larney, tells MHD about the company’s apprentice program.

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has welcomed one of its biggest crops of Toyota forklift technician apprentices since 2007 in its 2024 Annual Apprentice Intake, with 19 new inductees brought into the program.

TMHA is Australia’s leading forklift supplier, and as ever competition for spots in the Annual Apprentice Intake were extremely fierce with the 19 new apprentices chosen from a field of more than a thousand applicants.

The grassroots initiative fosters the development of in-demand skills that will provide the new Toyota forklift technician apprentices with valuable expertise, affording strong employment opportunities with plentiful room for growth within the company.

TMHA targets early school leavers, marketing various jobs and opportunities to them. Among the 19 places on offer, there were four for midyear in 2023, which have carried over into the 2024 induction. 

Inducting and training new talent

An induction ceremony on April 04 saw the 19 new apprentices attend accompanied by mentors from their respective TMHA branches, where they were welcomed by senior TMHA executives including President and CEO Steve Takacs.

Held on April 04 at the TMHA Customer Experience Centre in Moorebank, NSW, the meet and greet was followed by a safety overview, a presentation on Toyota history, values and expectations, and a tour of the headquarters.

After lunch, Steve presented the new apprentices with their tools of the trade, marking a significant investment directly to the inductees.

Apprentices were invited to stay at the Rydges of Campbelltown hotel on the night of April 03, complete with a casual dinner with executives.

The applicants will be distributed to TMHA branches across Australia, in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Newcastle, Queanbeyan, Townsville, , and Traralgon.

The apprentice program now educates roughly 50 apprentices across the business and has been successfully run by TMHA since 2007.

TMHA national manager – LEAN Management and After Sales Evaluation Cert, Gerry Larney, says the apprenticeship program was the perfect way to integrate new talent into the TMHA business.

“We use the apprenticeship program to grow our skillset and forklift technician base, and it’s been really successful for us,” adds Gerry.

He notes there were multiple avenues to career growth for apprentices, with many forging strong careers at TMHA.

Apprentices will be trained to service and maintain TMHA forklift products. Image: Toyota Material Handling Australia.
Apprentices will be trained to service and maintain TMHA forklift products. Image: Toyota Material Handling Australia.

“We have staff that started their apprenticeship at Toyota who are still with us 30 years later. It’s a great career path within Toyota. with opportunities of development in achieving senior technician grades, team leader roles, field and workshop service manager roles, plus branch and sales manager roles 

“There are almost no barriers to where they can go in the business. If they have the skillsets that add on to their technician qualifications, they can go anywhere.”

Learning the trade for the long haul

Apprentices receive thorough and well-rounded training with supervision from skilled mentors and are cycled through every aspect of the service business for a truly holistic learning experience.

TMHA has run the apprenticeship program in-house for the last 17 years, focusing on a safe work environment, while imparting the correct skills and knowledge to apprentices while also supporting their TAFE schooling over a four-year period.

The forklift retailer usually receives anywhere between 1000 to 1200 applications for 15 to 19 spots. For example, in Sydney, TMHA might receive 100 applications whereas in Newcastle – for two positions – there might be 150 to 200 applications. 

It has places in five major cities: Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and in its regional branches: Darwin, Albury-Wodonga, Queanbeyan, Orange, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Gladstone, Cairns, Launceston, and Hobart. There are usually only one place available in these regional areas with 60 to 100 applications.

“Our branch managers will vet the list of applicants, by reviewing their resumés,” explains Gerry.

“They’ll review what kind of interests they have outside of school. Many of them have an interest in automotives like cars and motorcycles or have a mechanical background.

“We then interview and provide them with aptitude tests to help our managers get a better understanding of the final pool of candidates. When interview process is completed, we offer them an apprenticeship contract job and they accept it. From there, we onboard them. 

“Every year since 2007, we’ve brought all the new apprentices into the head office facility for a meet and greet with TMHA President and CEO, Steve Tackas and our Vice President and COO and Director of Operations. Next, we spend the first day focusing on occupational health and safety and take them on a tour of the facility.”

Each year, the number of apprentices TMHA has been taking on has increased year on year, starting at 10 and steadily on the increase, reflecting the growth in the business. 

TMHA offers an extensive range of Toyota forklift products. Image: Toyota Material Handling Australia.
TMHA offers an extensive range of Toyota forklift products. Image: Toyota Material Handling Australia.

Training is focused on TMHA’s complete range of products, equipment, sales, delivery to customers, spare parts, repair and maintenance. 

Most apprentices start their journey in the TMHA workshops, progressing into field service, working on static sites such as large corporate and major account customers where there are usually up to 300 units of material handling equipment on site. 

“They’ll either remain as a workshop or field service mechanic,” adds Gerry. “Four or five out of the 15 will branch out into different areas of the business such as sales and service management supervision. There’s lots of room for progression because the sky really is the limit.

“Our current President and CEO started his career in the forklift industry some forty-odd years ago as a forklift mechanic. He then transferred to sales and – as they say – the rest is history. 

“We employ apprentices with the view of longevity. Most of our employees stay with us for well over 10 years.

“In the past two years, we’ve introduced the mid-year intake for apprentices. The biggest intake will be at the start of the calendar year. Our business is growing exponentially. So we need to have the manpower to service, repair and pre-deliver units. We’re focused on and committed to all these matters because they’re very important to us and our business partners ensuring we offer them the best customer experience.

For more information on Toyota Material Handling Australia, click here.

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