Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 
Driver shortage solution is in our hands

Driver shortage solution is in our hands

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

 May 2020    RTF News

Notwithstanding the disruption currently experienced because of the coronavirus outbreak, the most pressing issue for the industry over the long term remains our workforce shortage.

While work continues with progressing the issue in government circles, the fact is that we cannot rely on the assistance that may come out of that to solve the problem, says transport operator Graham Sheldrake.

As Sheldrake explains, it remains incumbent on the industry to develop and support its own solutions.

"Anyone who looks around at the employment market in our industry over the last few years knows that if we keep going like we have been, we are going to have serious shortages of employees in the not-too-distant future. The fact of the matter is we just haven't done a good enough job of nurturing the next generation in trucking.

"Economic variations aside, if we want to change things, we as operators have to act. Yes, it might take time – but we have to lift the image of our industry and give young people a chance to succeed in it.

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Notwithstanding the disruption currently experienced because of the coronavirus outbreak, the most pressing issue for the industry over the long term remains our workforce shortage.
While work continues with progressing the issue in government circles, the fact is that we cannot rely on the assistance that may come out of that to solve the problem, says transport operator Graham Sheldrake.
As Sheldrake explains, it remains incumbent on the industry to develop and support its own solutions.
"Anyone who looks around at the employment market in our industry over the last few years knows that if we keep going like we have been, we are going to have serious shortages of employees in the not-too-distant future. The fact of the matter is we just haven't done a good enough job of nurturing the next generation in trucking.
"Economic variations aside, if we want to change things, we as operators have to act. Yes, it might take time – but we have to lift the image of our industry and give young people a chance to succeed in it.
"If we want to bring a younger workforce through, we need to commit to being good employers and be open, modern, flexible and invested in their success. That is the only way we can get the staff we need and keep them.
"If you want a payoff at the end of it you will need to invest: That means committing time to mentor, upskill, support and qualify an employee into your business. We also sometimes need to take a punt on a young person like I did with Summer Ratima Thompson, who has become an outstanding employee for me and won the 2019 EROAD Young Driver of Year Award.
"It is important that we use the highly-relevant qualifications developed over the last few years to attract new recruits and help existing workers gain the experience and skills to increase their pay and progress in the industry. Committing to ongoing training and qualifications should be a key aspect of any employer's responsibility to their staff.
"Road freight needs to be more about a career, and less about a job. If we want to maintain the privilege of doing business with a steady flow of workers, it is absolutely critical that we pay people appropriately for the job they do.
"It's not the young people we need to change. The world is their oyster. They have plenty of job and career options they can pursue. The changes that will improve our situation can only be made by us.
"I want to help other operators understand just how serious the issue is and I'd love to outline for you the bones of the Industry Cadetship Programme that I'm currently involved in developing. It's really important that we get operator feedback, so I'd be really keen to have these conversations with you.
"The current average age of drivers in our industry is 54. If we want this number to increase further and then suffer the consequences as our workforce heads into retirement then we should carry on as normal. If we want to promote a younger, diverse workforce that includes more women, please join me and other industry leaders in supporting the Industry Cadetship concept.
"Every operator that is keen to take on a young person and train them up for a career in trucking is contributing – not only to the development of their staff, but the longterm sustainability of our industry. The Government might help us around the edges, but the key to improving the flow of people into road transport lies in our hands. As operators, we are the solution."
More information on the Industry Cadetship Programme and how it will work for operators will be available in the coming months.


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