Team work makes the dream work

Collaboration is a bit of a buzz word, bandied around all too frequently. But I want to tell you a story about genuine collaboration between our industry and government.

Yesterday, we launched our Te ara ki tua Road to success industry traineeship in Auckland. We were fortunate to be joined by Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Transport and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood, who both spoke about how great it was to see the various parts of government they are responsible for coming together to get a traineeship off the ground in an industry they support and see value in.

This traineeship is about providing a career path for people who want to work in road freight transport – as drivers primarily – but also in the other skilled roles the industry offers. Truck driving is a challenging and varied job, with lots of skills required. The contribution a good truck driver makes to a business and to the wider New Zealand economy and wellbeing is immense, as we saw during the Covid-19 lockdowns as trucks kept rolling while most of us were safe at home.

There is often a view that young people need to change to fit something. We are taking the opposite view. The industry must change to fit the desires of a modern workforce. That means qualifications, structure, on-the-job training, and license progression, as we are very short of Class 5 drivers. The challenge is that many businesses don’t have anything other than Class 5 vehicles, so it is harder to train, but not impossible if people work together. I wish to emphasise that it is very much about the industry taking the lead and finding solutions to its own challenges.

But we have needed help to do that. We have known for a long time there was a truck driver shortage and with increased demand for road freight and an ageing workforce, we need to focus on training the next generations to come and keeping them engaged and excited about the industry.

Sometimes, when you go to the government for help, it can be a demoralising experience. But not in the case of this traineeship. We were able to work across different parts of government and get everyone on the same page and enthusiastic about the opportunities this traineeship will offer.

And we were able to do it in a year – the year that the world stood still to combat Covid-19.

The Tertiary Education Commission and MITO have enabled us to offer industry specific micro-credentials for trainees to get formal qualifications. Training is a mix of practical and theoretical components. MITO have also waived fees for the micro-credentials – which are completed on line – until 31 December 2021.

The industry partnerships team at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)  have been hugely influential in assisting the RTF through this process, along with their Kiwi Can Do team who get people work-ready. We will continue working with MSD to place registered job seekers and those affected by Covid-19 job losses in traineeships with road transport operators.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency have shown a strong interest in the programme and support for our concept of training drivers to be better and safer on the road. That is a goal we share.

On the other side, we need industry to take up what we are offering them – motivated workers keen to get out there on the road and keep delivering for New Zealand.

Showing tremendous leadership, Chris Carr and the Carr & Haslam team are in step with us. They have taken on three trainees via MSD – all who went through the Kiwi Can Do programme.  Betty Heremaia Sola, Liana Manu and Shaun Tomai are able to work and earn money while they go about their training, and they are already valued by Carr & Haslam.

Carr & Haslam hosted the launch event yesterday with Ministers, government officials, industry and media all attending, and as the final speaker, Chris Carr threw down the gauntlet to other transport operators to follow his example.

You can find out more about the traineeship at www.roadtosuccess.nz and please don’t hesitate to contact us to register your interest.

In the photo above, from left to right: Chris Carr, Hon. Michael Wood, Betty Heremaia Sola, Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Shaun Tomai, Liana Manu, Nick Leggett, Greg Pert.

– Nick Leggett, CEO, Road Transport Forum