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