The driver shortage question fascinates me, as I’m sure it does many in my generation. People of my era have lived through feast and famine in the driving labour market. We knew a time where any trucking company worth its salt had a waiting list as long as your arm and if your company struggled to get drivers, it told the world more about your business than about the labour market in the industry. Now, our industry is in crisis for precisely the opposite reason, and after many years the snowball has gathered enough speed to attract the attention of the wider community. I’ve listened to radio, read newspapers, watched TV, listened to conversations among the public, and talked to industry participants at every level. The really interesting commentary has been from those outside the industry, who on more than one occasion have been heard to say, “It’s only got itself to
blame. Who the hell will do that job for that money, for that many hours a week?”
As a columnist has previously said in this magazine, the Class 5 truck is the largest vehicle allowed free reign in the public arena under the complete control of one individual. And what’s that worth? As low as $20 an hour in many places evidentially. The days of filling the driver’s seat with those like me who have been captivated by big trucks from day dot, or fostering the fever by plonking a kid in the passenger seat and showing him or her every corner of the country from a magnificent Class 5 truck before they’re 10, are over.
The next generation will need to be wooed using other means. Discovering what those means are requires only two questions and they’re questions for everyone with a stake in the transport industry, including drivers, business owners, industry association leaders, politicians and the Prime Minister.
The questions are: If your young son or daughter came to you now, in the privacy of your own home, isolated from the ears of the outside world, in an air of trust with no requirement on the part of either party to say the right thing, and said, “I want to drive a truck for a living.” What would your answer be? And more to the point – why?
New Zealand Trucking