Award winners recognised for achievement

This year’s Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand Conference was the first since 2019, which also meant that it was the first time in three years that we held the Transporting New Zealand Industry Awards. I believe these awards are an important way for the trucking community to annually recognise best practice and outstanding achievement in our industry. They are about helping an industry that very rarely blows its own trumpet, to enjoy and promote its success.

The awards honour individuals and organisations whose activities and achievements ultimately improve the daily lives of others and ensure the industry is a rewarding and safe environment to work in.

The big award of the night, the VTNZ Supreme Contribution to NZ Road Transport, was some thing of a double hit for the winner, Neil Reid, as he also received the first ever life membership to Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.

Winners of the inaugural Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand Industry Awards. From left: John Alexander, Hayley Alexander, Paul Hintz, the Alexander Group (EROAD Outstanding Contribution to Health and Safety Award); Neil Reid (VTNZ Supreme Contribution to NZ Road Transport and inaugural Life Member of Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand); Te ara ki tua Road to success graduate Nadine Rowan-Thomson, KAM Transport; Brianna Wilson, Philip Wareing Ltd (EROAD Young Driver of the Year – under 35); Josh Hart, Hart Haulage (Castrol Truck Driver Hero Award); and Road to success graduate Sheryl McGlashan, Brenics Transport. (Not present: Road to success graduates Hayden Cockburn, RTL, and Mark Closel, of NZ Express; and Jenny McIntyre, Waimea Contract Carriers (Teletrac Navman Outstanding Contribution by a Woman in the Road Transport Industry)

From Road Transport News, October 2022

The future of our workforce is in our hands

In my final column for this magazine, I want to reflect on the year we have had building up the Road to success traineeship, where it’s going, and the need to keep investing in attracting and recruiting new people into our industry. It’s this final point that I want to emphasise because regardless of the achievements of Road to success or any other industry traineeship scheme, it’s the willingness of operators to take on and invest in new and inexperienced people that will ensure a bright future for road transport in New Zealand.

Across a number of sectors of our economy, it has become easy to blame Government and other external influences for the problems being faced with regards to the workforce shortage. However, while there are some obvious issues with this Government’s policy and decision-making in a range of areas (immigration settings, for example), the bottom line is that it’s up to each industry to meet its own recruitment challenges.

At the recent Transporting New Zealand conference, Jonathan Caseley of PERFORM-X Aotearoa explained how the tool his company has developed shows there’s a shortage of around 2400 heavy vehicle drivers across New Zealand currently.

Now, we could spend our time complaining about those missing drivers and demanding the Government loosen immigration settings, and this may temporarily alleviate the problem. However, that is only a short-term solution. By contrast, Road to success has been set up to provide long-term industry-led solutions that can be supported by, but not run by, the Government. These, we believe, will be far more enduring and encourage ministers and officials that we’re investing in dealing with our own problems and are, therefore, worthwhile supporting.

2022 saw the first graduates complete the Road to success traineeship with several trainees having completed all four industry micro-credentials and going on to gain a Class five licence. We now have a total of 60 trainees enrolled in industry micro-credentials, double the number we had a year ago.

Through our agreement with the NZ Trucking Association and National Road Carriers, our ambitious target is to have 1000 people enrolled in industry qualifications by the end of 2023.

I am also pleased to be able to report on the introduction of the new Driver Boost initiative that sits within the broader Road to success programme. Driver Boost has been created to help support current Class 4 and 5 drivers to further upskill and gain industry qualifications, recognising that there’s a lot more to a career in professional driving than what licence class you have. So far, 10 operators have enrolled their drivers with Driver Boost, and we expect 2023 to see a significant expansion to this scheme.

This year also saw the appointment of our first cohort of Driving Change Diversity Champions. These 10 Champions hold a number of different roles across a range of transport companies and are passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in our industry. A number of initiatives will be rolled out through our Diversity Champions in 2023, including the Champions in Action series where they will share the learnings and experiences from their own workplaces. There will also be advice to help operators ensure their workplace is as inclusive as possible and how that can be leveraged to attract a broader range of people to a career in road transport.

While this is my last column for Deals on Wheels, those interested in Road to success and the Driving Change Diversity Programme, can still follow our progress at

Finally, let me leave you with this thought, and it’s particularly aimed at those that doubt the relevance of a traineeship to our industry:

Yes, there’s a risk in investing in developing people in our sector, some will work out and others may not. However, ask yourselves this: what’s the risk of not investing in this development? Because the freight task isn’t going to stop just because we have a lack of drivers.

From Deals on Wheels Jan 2023 #358

Supply chain concerns highlight value of truck drivers

On the preceding page, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand chief executive Nick Leggett discusses his recent call to holders of Class 2, 4, and 5 heavy vehicle licence to consider making themselves available to help our industry deliver essential goods during the height of the upcoming Omicron wave.

The Road to success team fully supports Nick in this call and encourages all those outside our industry who have up-to-date licences to consider making themselves available to assist the country through what will inevitably be a supply chain crisis as truck drivers and freight workers are forced to spend periods of time isolating at home over the coming months or get unwell with the virus.

Looking beyond the immediate COVID-related problems facing our industry, what this call for extra drivers highlights is just how ‘essential’ having a steady stream of new drivers is not only to our industry but also to the country as a whole.

The kind of jobs traditionally important to New Zealand’s economy used to also be highly valued by society. Truck drivers, farmers, shearers, orchardists, port workers, and seamen were once admired for the part they play at the heart of the New Zealand’s economy. Unfortunately, changing cultural attitudes over the past few decades, while leading to a much more inclusive society generally, have also meant that these traditional manual jobs are no longer treated with the respect they deserve.

It’s my hope that Road to success is helping to change this perception, at least with regards to truck drivers. I want our trainees to know that they are joining a highly-valued industry and a workforce that’s understood by the general public to be a key link in New Zealand’s supply chain.

So, if there’s one silver lining to come out of the pandemic and the well-publicised challenges to our supply chain, may it be that New Zealand again begins to value those people who actually go out every day and work hard creating, producing, transporting, and exporting our world-class commodities to the world.

From my perspective, it’s incredibly important that our school leavers and young industry trainees appreciate the essential value of the transport and freight sectors and understand that the training they do will help prepare them for a fulfilling career. This combined with a steady improvement in working conditions, fair wage rates, and having identifiable career pathways will help to ensure that our workforce shortages can become a thing of the past.

Finally, I want to share some good news from the Road to success programme because we recently celebrated our first batch of trainees to complete the industry’s newly-created set of four micro-credentials (Introduction to Commercial Road Transport, Driver Safety, Mass and Dimensions, and Heavy Combination Vehicle Loading Fundamentals).

Congratulations goes to Connor Mose of Mainstream Freight Group, Sheryl McGlashan of Brenics Limited, and Alex Morgan from RJ Doughty Limited, who completed the microcredentials while working their busy day jobs. Connor (now Class 4) and Sheryl (now Class 5) also progressed up the licence classes.

I’m confident that over the next few months, more trainees will join Connor, Sheryl, and Alex in achieving these qualifications. The challenges of working in an essential industry in a COVID environment have meant a number of our other trainees have had their training impeded, but Road to success continues to support them, and we plan to formally recognise their achievements once they are in a position to complete their training.

From Deals on Wheels March 2022 #348

Road to success continuing to evolve in 2022

A new year brings new opportunities and a renewed energy to tackle seemingly enormous tasks, like solving the country’s truck driver shortage.

After a much-needed break to rest and recharge from an extremely challenging 2021, the Te ara ki tua Road to success team is well and truly back on deck and ready to go.

Our current trainees are making a good first of achieving the goals set for them at the beginning of their road transport journey in 2021. Many of them are starting the year at a new licence level and are moving on to bigger vehicles. A number have already completed and passed their micro-credential qualifications, which is awesome to see, and the best bit is they are all still loving what they are doing to keep our country running.

After working hard to engage and match motivated operators and eager trainees in the Road to success traineeship throughout last year, as well as manage the challenges of lockdowns, we’re now beginning to look at how we could make the traineeship better. Establishing a ‘meat-on-the-bones’ training guide and continuing to support operators keen to recruit and train new drivers is top of the list for 2022.

After a successful workshop with a number of industry experts in training and operations late last year, we have developed the basis for a more detailed training programme. By paring things back and looking at the essential skills needed to bring a new entrant driver up to the standards of a professional Class 5 operator, we better understand the steps needed to ensure quality training is given across the industry. The end result, we hope, will be a programme that provides operators with an even more sustainable and structured programme to train new drivers.

New ideas on how to engage and keep your teams involved in the journey of a trainee will be key to the continued development of this programme and ensure it remains fit for purpose and easy to adopt in all transport operations.

At the end of 2021, Road to success asked operators who have a trainee working through the programme to take part in a survey. We wanted to know what was working well and what was not, what we could improve on, how they found the placement process, what barriers they faced getting training off the ground and what additional support we could give to them. Feedback such as this is critical in helping us understand how to do things better, what extra support operators need, and what needs to be done to make the programme suitable for all transport businesses.

We also surveyed our current trainees to make sure the programme was meeting their expectations and find out what we could improve from their end. That feedback ensures we can continue to provide a modern, attractive programme and supply a continuous stream of new trainees for the industry.

I am looking forward to the year ahead meeting more great people who are excited about trying out for a career behind the wheel. Promotion of our industry as a career option will be a growing feature of what we do in and, of course, we will continue to work hard to place our trainees with appropriate operators and kick start their career in transport.

From Deals on Wheels / Feb 2022 #347