Trucking industry combines forces to find 1000 more drivers
The trucking industry and the Government’s Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP) have joined forces to get as many as 1,000 more drivers into the road freight transport industry nationwide. The greatest shortages are in the Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury regions. Auckland based National Road Carriers surveyed its members last year and found they required 744 more drivers.
“That probably translates to more than 1,000 needed nationwide,” said the Road Freight Forum’s Chairman, Steve Doughty from Auckland. The group includes nationwide representation with the other members being Grant Madill (Auckland), Graham Sheldrake (Tokoroa), John Anderson (Wellington), and Peter McCauley (Timaru). The group has operational support from David Aitken (National Road Carriers) and Christchurch based, Dennis Robertson (NZ Road Transport Association) and Dave Boyce (NZ Trucking Association), the nation’s three trucking organisations.
“We see this as a significant step in the right direction,” said Mr Aitken. “The transport industry recognises more must be done around the driver shortage problem than where we are right now, and the only way to get anywhere was to band together.” The construction, infrastructure, online shopping and export booms are all driving the demand for more drivers. Dunedin based Steve Divers, who has a background in compliance, permitting and project management and was a British Police Officer has been appointed by industry and SWEP to lead the recruitment initiative.
Transport through its coalition of industry associations and SWEP are sharing the cost. Diver’s first task will be finding ways to make it easier to become a truck driver. “The transport industry provides fantastic opportunities for young people with business acumen and ambition.” The entry points to the industry and the training programmes should be examined, said Divers. “We have to understand what’s working and where improvements can be made.”
“Schools are an untapped resource,” he said. “Most people currently training for a Class 5 truck licence are over the age of 25 and quite often in their 30s and 40s.” Mr Divers said existing training schemes to gain a Class 2 licence to drive a light rigid truck under 18,000 kgs gross combined weight (GCW) and a log book course to record working hours were relatively cheap compared to many other career courses. Diver’s job is to drive programmes that address the shortage of Class 5 drivers, where the need is greatest – for the biggest truck and trailer units weighing up to over 44 tonnes being common place – and generate interest from people to consider truck driving as a career option.
SWEP has been set up by several government agencies to improve employer’s access to reliable, skilled staff, to cover a wide range of industries.
The partnership came about after work was completed on an industry commissioned strategy review in 2016 which was accepted by National Road Carriers, the Road Transport Association and the New Zealand Trucking Association and included in the SWEP programme.
The strategy is likely to focus on encouraging more drivers to get Class 2 licences and then encouraging them to seek the more advanced licenses to drive the heaviest trucks on the road.