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Move to address truck driver shortage
Posted at 9:36am Saturday 24 Jun, 2017
A new initiative to address a shortage of truck drivers by attracting more to the industry has been welcomed by a freight logistics strategy group.
The Bay of Connections Freight Logistics Action Group (FLAG) has welcomed a new government and industry initiative to help attract and train new freight truck drivers.
FLAG says 32 per cent of the nation’s freight travel is on roads in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
They hope the new Government led Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP), will assist in attracting 1,000 more drivers into the road freight transport industry nationwide.
FLAG chairman John Galbraith says the scheme is positive as many businesses are struggling to find skilled drivers as the existing workforce in that field is ageing.
“The problem won’t go away and it’s something we must address quickly as an industry."
SWEP director of Career Pathways Steve Divers says since 2013 the industry has lost 3,000 drivers and needs 1000 more drivers on top of those being trained each year to replace drivers who have been lost due mostly due to retirement, illness or injury.
“We currently train 1800 drivers a year but students need to know there is a career path and what that path looks like."
Freight operator, GBC Winstone national transport sales manager Jon Reid says the biggest issue faced when recruiting is the actual shortage of ‘skilled and capable’ drivers available.
“The hours required and the wages on offer also means there are difficulties around attracting young people to an industry that is not looked upon favourably as a career path."
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (formerly BOP Polytechnic) has operated its Logistics Training Centre in Tauranga since 2002 and has trained over 600 heavy transport and distribution operators for industry in that time.
The Institute offers a Certificate in Road Transport Level 3, and says their biggest barrier is the current driver licensing laws.
Group Leader of Logistics training Centre at Toi-Ohomai, Dean Colville, says students are 18 and half years old by the time they get their full car license and then they have to wait a further six months before they do the course and can get their class 2 license.
SWEP’s Steve Divers agrees this is a problem, with less than 9% of 20-34 year olds passing their full class license in 2016.
“We need to produce more class 2 licenses and we also need the freight and truck industry to support those drivers in further training so they can obtain their class 4 and 5 licenses.”