Irish truck drivers south to fill shortage

Truck driving is another occupation in New Zealand that faces shortages of workers. Firms are trying to recruit drivers from Ireland.

Construction, horticulture, viticulture and dairy farming also have trouble attracting local workers – and while wage rates may be a factor I think it’s far from the only reason why we have worker shortages alongside a stubborn level of unemployment.

Irish Times:  New Zealand seeks to recruit 1,000 Irish truck drivers

Irish long distance drivers are being invited to travel a very long distance to get work. New Zealand is looking to recruit up to 1,000 truck drivers from overseas as it cannot fill the vacancies internally.

It takes three years to qualify as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver in New Zealand and many young Kiwis are not attracted to the job.

Recruitment firm Canstaff is offering a new relocation package to overseas heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from Ireland to fill the skills shortage. In some cases haulage companies will pay the cost of flights to New Zealand.

Irish truck drivers can earn between €15 and €20 an hour in New Zealand. In Ireland the rate is closer to €12 an hour, according to Canstaff managing director Matt Jones.

Mr Jones said he had spent a lot of time in Ireland in 2011 and 2012 recruiting construction workers to rebuild Christchurch which had been badly damaged in an earthquake.

The average reported salary for a New Zealand truck driver last year was NZ$51,200 (€31,000), but wages have gone up by 20 per cent to attract the right candidates.

“Despite Government initiatives to attract more heavy vehicle drivers, the shortage has been ongoing and a more immediate solution is needed to keep New Zealand’s wheels of commerce turning.”

RNZ:  Trucking firms forced to go offshore to search for drivers

A recruitment agency is planning to import truck drivers from overseas because local young people aren’t interested in that line of work.

Simon Reid owns a company in Northland that maintains about nine trucks. Business is pretty good, but he’s got a problem.

“There is quite a problem with attracting drivers to the industry. It’s not going to be something that goes away, simply because the government isn’t interested in helping us.

“They don’t see us as being a critical problem in the bigger picture of the economy.”

Recruitment firm Canstaff’s managing director Matt Jones thought he knew why.

“It’s probably not sexy enough for that [younger] generation.

“There’s a bit of graft in it, a bit of dirt under the fingernails … the millennial generation enjoy looking at a computer screen. They don’t mind driving a truck on a computer screen, but doing it in real life is a little bit different.”

Long haul truck driving often means having to spend time away from home.

Truck driving is a fairly lucrative job – it starts at about $50,000 a year, hits six figures at the top levels, and doesn’t require an expensive tertiary degree.

That doesn’t sound bad – money doesn’t seem to be the main reason for the driver shortage.

All you need to get the wheels rolling is a full driver’s licence, and one of four types of special class licence – which you can sit straight away, after having your full licence for six months.

The Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga offers courses in heavy truck driving safety. The group leader of those courses, Dean Colville, said enrolments had hit a low point.

“This year we’ve had the lowest numbers ever. Normally we run classes of about 20, and this year they’ve been down to about 14, and as low as six in some cases.”

Mr Colville said the problem was the six-month wait to get a full drivers licence, which meant high school graduates could not get a job in the industry immediately after high school.

A six month wait for a full license doesn’t seem to be a big issue. Most careers take some training and time after you leave school.

Were seem to have quite a few unemployed people who are quite fussy about the sort of work they get. And there’s some that aren’t fussed on work at all.

These sorts of issues can be complex, but the truck driver shortage adds to the unemployment and immigration debates.