Trucking sector begging for new drivers

By Aimee Shaw

The National Road Carriers says the sector has been short of drivers for a decade.
The National Road Carriers says the sector has been short of drivers for a decade.

Hundreds of trucks are parked up around the country every day, because there aren't enough drivers to get them rolling.

The National Road Carriers says the sector has been short of drivers for a decade.

CEO David Aitken says the problem is about to get worse with the amount of freight predicted to grow up to 75 per cent in the next 20 to 30 years.

"We are at a point now where hundreds of trucks are parked up in any one day without drivers which is actually affecting the transport companies, business and its affecting their own productivity and efficiency and New Zealand's productivity and efficiency, when you can't get goods moved."

Aitken said the number of people getting their class 5 licences is not keeping up with increase in freight.

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"You can't just have anybody with a class 5 licence driving. You need someone with skills and experience, so we need to be able to get these sorts of people behind the wheel.

"It's a highly skilled job, driving a truck."

The Road Carriers Association is launching a Workforce Development Strategy to try to encourage people to become truck drivers.

The strategy -- if put in to place -- will have a one year plan, two, five and 10-year plan to help meet all guidelines.

Aitken said the next step in the process is to consult he Ministry of Social Development about how to attract youth into the industry.

"We will be looking at education programs in schools and out in the community to let people know there are very good career opportunities," he said. "People don't understand the opportunities that are in the transport and logistics sector.

"There are a lot of opportunities out there for young people in this industry," he told Newstalk ZB.

With the latest vehicle allowance on truck length and width changing to accommodate more freight, Aitken said there will be less trucks needed. However, "the freight task is growing at such a rate, that we are still not keeping up with demand."

Licencing is the biggest issue for the transport sector, as is low margins and overall industry image.

"The margins in the transport sector are very low and there are many elements in the broader picture as to why there is a shortage of drivers," Aitken said.

"A lot of things need to change and its going to take time to change them."

- With Newstalk ZB


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