Tuesday, 29th April, 2014

A big shortage of truck drivers in the upper North Island and especially Auckland is confirmed in a sample survey conducted recently.

A massive 85% of the more than 150 transport firms that responded confirmed they were experiencing driver shortages. Of this, 47% of the companies reporting a driver shortage are in Auckland, followed by 19% in Waikato, 17% Bay of Plenty and 12% and 5% in Northland and Thames Valley respectively.

Driver shortages are across all sectors of the transport industry except house removals. The biggest shortages are in the higher skilled truck driver classes such as containers, line haul, and bulk aggregates and liquids. A significant shortage of general freight drivers is also revealed.

The survey was undertaken nationally by the Road Transport Forum, with the upper North Island results compiled in association with National Road Carriers and other business organisations, including Auckland Chamber, who have joined forces to better understand Auckland’s exact skill shortages as part of the Auckland Business Leaders Group (BLG) agenda Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said the scale of the driver shortage indicated by the survey had to be acting as a constraint on Auckland’s business performance – delaying getting goods to market and construction jobs taking longer than they should.

Unlike previous surveys showing a persistent skills shortage in Auckland, the intention this time is to be proactive to put in place solutions. “Auckland businesses won’t achieve their potential without a skilled and adaptive labor force.”

This survey helps us understand where exactly our skills shortages are in the transport sector, and will enable the newly formed Auckland Business Leadership Group to frame an orchestrated campaign to respond appropriately, said Mr Barnett, the BLG’s chairman.

A pragmatic approach by the business community will be the best way to ensure solutions can be put in place that represent value for money and can be delivered quickly. These could include a local recruitment campaign to seek men and women with a good work attitude and wanting to learn. Another option is to work with tertiary institutes to establish driver training courses for school leavers or work experienced people wanting a change of career.

However, because the driver shortage was especially acute in the higher skilled driver classes and the need was immediate, a driver recruitment campaign across the rest of New Zealand and from overseas might need to be considered, suggested Mr Barnett.

He noted that 76% of respondents supported a campaign to recruit skilled migrant drivers.

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.