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