26 Oct 2018
Ara launched the new level 3 Transport & Logistics programme in collaboration with industry in Timaru last night, surrounded by historical evidence of trucking in the region.
Ara Chief Executive Tony Gray and South Canterbury Transport and Logistics working group Chair Ali McGrath spoke at the event, which was held at the South Canterbury Traction Engine & Transport Museum.
“We are delighted to launch this programme so we can help South Canterbury industry to fill the shortage for commercial truck drivers and keep goods and livestock moving. The new Transport and Logistics programme at Ara will focus on industry-based knowledge and practice to bridge that gap between getting a licence and having the experience to be employed, so it is very much oriented to getting graduates behind the wheel and on the road,” Ara Chief Executive Tony Gray said.
Where the first trucks live
Some of the industry partners involved in the new training programme were represented at the museum, which houses early trucks from Paul Smith, H&J Bruce and Mount Cook Line, as well as Barwoods Transport’s first truck, Hilton Haulage’s first Mercedes truck, one of Temuka Transport’s first trucks and early trucks from Bob Mehrtens Transport.
Ten students started the inaugural programme at Ara this week. With skilled Transport & Logistics workers in demand in South Canterbury, Ara expects more potential commercial drivers to sign up for subsequent occurrences of the programme. This has been the experience of other institutes, such as Northtec, where growth in student numbers has continued to steadily increase across five campuses since their new programme was introduced.
2,800 new truck drivers needed nationally
Demand for truck drivers will only increase, reports indicate. At least 2,800 new drivers will be needed nationally per year for the next 10 years, according to the paper: Is the Availability of Heavy Vehicle Drivers Jeopardising the Future of New Zealand’s Transport Industry? produced in November 2015 by Castalia Strategic Advisors Limited.
However, other industry experts warn that increasing volumes of fresh produce means that 2,800 new drivers per year will not be enough.
“Given the projected growth in the freight task of around 60 per cent over the next thirty years, it is difficult to see how the freight task transported by road can be met without a step change in the rate of increase in heavy vehicle drivers,” the Road Freight Industry, Road Transport Workforce Development Strategy reported in June 2015.
Local demand reflects national demand
More locally, the 2016 South Canterbury Labour Market Survey Transport report by Skillz Solutionz found that, “There is likely to be ongoing staff and skills shortages in the transport sector mainly with trained and experienced truck drivers.”