Toi Ohomai Road transport training centre
A Bay of Connections industry group is taking a looming shortage of heavy vehicle drivers into its own hands, working with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology around potential cadetships to lure younger people into the industry.
The Freight Logistics Action Group (FLAG) has tasked its members to look for potential solutions to address the increasing demand for heavy vehicle drivers in the region.
Toi Ohomai currently runs a 19-week, Level 3, block course in Tauranga offering a New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Road Transport, Heavy Vehicle Operator, with an average student age of 45.
Adrian Bowen, group manager road transport and warehousing at Toi Ohomai, says the biggest barrier to attracting young people is the current driver licencing laws.
“This is a challenge due to the fact that when school leavers do not have a full car licence, for the mandatory period, it prevents them from progressing to a class 2 qualification.”
He says that due to the time it can take students to get the various stages of their car licence, it becomes a bigger challenge for the road transport industry to take young people on if they haven’t started the process of getting their class 1 learners licence when they turned 16.
Adrian says it’s vital they work with the industry and schools to establish how driver training and a cadetship will work for all parties.
“We now have a greater understanding of the different requirements the industry has and may need to change how we deliver the courses. We may have to change the structure of the programme and deliver it in bite size chunks, over the term of the cadetship,” he says.
Greg Pert – TranzLiquid managing director
While the institute offers schools a year 12, Level 2 course in Logistics and Distribution, Adrian says one of the hurdles is that there is nothing offered currently for someone wanting to follow a pathway into the road transport and logistics industry, especially in year 13, so this is where a cadetship could start to be delivered and support a pathway into the industry.
Adrian says the cadetship programme will most likely be delivered in three phases – introductory skills, industry skills, and entry level operator skills.
He says one of the challenges is selling the industry and promoting its educational pathways to school students.
The initiative has been welcomed by Mt Maunganui-based TranzLiquid, which has 50 drivers on staff and a nationwide service.
“Industry has to step up and be prepared to follow through and have belief in driver training. We have a responsibility to train them and can’t have the attitude that it’s someone else’s job,” says Greg Pert, TranzLiquid managing director.
Greg Pert & Jackie Carroll, TranzLiquid owners
Greg and son Gareth, who are both FLAG members, say it is imperative to get young people into the industry.
“Freight transport is the lifeblood of the New Zealand economy. If you can’t get goods to market where is the country’s wealth going to come from?” Greg asks.
Greg agrees it is imperative students leave school with the right skills.
“My one piece of advice is to leave school with your full licence. It doesn’t matter if it’s the only skill you’ve got, if you have the right attitude you’ll make it.”
Gareth says that with the right calibre of training, drivers can quickly learn all aspects of the job.
“We see it as an apprenticeship. It’s all about setting values and attitude built by your business,” Gareth says.
“After 18 months, with a class 5 licence you’re earning good money quite quickly.”
The Bay of Connections is the regional growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty with a vision of creating a prosperous region supported by sustainable sectors.