Establishing a new road to success

In May 2021, Road Transport Forum6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJune 10, 2021

The Road Transport Forum’s Te ara ki tua Road to Success traineeship, aimed at assisting road transport operators to recruit new trainees and overcome the industry’s considerable workforce problems, is being well received by transport operators and recruits.

The RTF administers the programme and is working with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to place registered job seekers and those affected by Covid-19 in trainee roles within the industry. However, this is not the only source of trainees, and any suitable person can sign up for Road to Success once matched with a willing employer. The traineeship lasts a year.

A huge amount of work has gone into developing the programme. We all know of trucks being parked up because of a lack of experienced drivers. I believe that during the next five to 10 years, the programme can play a major role in helping operators take on new staff and alleviate the problem if the industry continues to support it.

The Road to Success training, a mixture of practical and theoretical components, is designed to lead directly to industry-relevant qualifications. These are in the form of micro-credential qualifications completed online. It also allows recruits to undertake large chunks of training while going about their regular day-to-day jobs.

Trainee Sheryl McGlashan from Christchurch first heard about Road to Success on Facebook. She’d had driving jobs in the past, and always enjoyed driving, no matter what type of vehicle.

Before starting the programme, she had a class-4 licence and was doing metro delivery in Christchurch with Fr8base. She joined Brenics Ltd in February.

“My family and friends are very supportive, and they’re always interested in what type of truck I have been driving each day,” Sheryl says.

She likes the fact every day is different. She started her on-the-job training on day one and says she’s enjoying the challenge of another type of work.

The training is already proving useful, with Sheryl saying she is getting some practice in reversing a B-train and truck and trailer in preparation for going for her class-5 licence. Eventually, she’s keen to get out of the city and see some of the countryside in a linehaul role.

Sheryl advises anyone considering signing up for the programme to “just do it”. “The company I am with was keen to get on board. Hopefully, many others will see the advantages that it offers and get on board with it.

“I see people asking online about how to get into the transport industry all the time. It’s an untapped market, but potential workers need to show the companies that they are worthy of their support too.”

Brenics general manager Scott Johnstone says the company has always had internal programmes to develop employees’ skills. “It doesn’t matter what industry it is, I think it’s important to bring people through. Due to the fast- paced nature of the transport industry, everybody’s trapped in the deep end, and there’s no real structure in terms of funding. Larger businesses absorb that, but in small family businesses, everybody is expected to pull their weight almost straight away.”

Most of Brenics’ work involves class-5 drivers, so there aren’t areas into which a cadet can easily be slotted. He says partnering with the Road to Success programme means the company can provide on-the-job training, but there is also support and ongoing theory learning for cadets.

Traditionally, a big bone of contention for operators has been spending the time and money employing and training someone just for them to take a job elsewhere in the industry. Scott says that even if a trainee leaves Brenics, the company will have provided someone with a start, which can only be a good thing.

He’s so pleased with how Sheryl is doing on the programme, he’s already expressed an interest in taking on another trainee in Nelson.

“My recommendation would be that if you already have a training programme, that’s fantastic. But consolidating with other businesses brings strength in the industry to entice people in, not only to truck-driver roles. We also need people in dispatch, operations and admin roles, quite specific to logistics and transport. Not everybody understands the depth of what’s required. Not all of us are truck drivers. Not all truck drivers are just truck drivers.”

As Scott points out, many truck drivers are essentially running their own businesses, thinking for themselves, dealing with situations that arise – such as breakdowns – and making decisions and standing by them.

RTF now has two staff members – Fiona McDonagh and Caleb Rapson Nuñez del Prado – dedicated to Road to Success. Operators and potential trainees can visit to find out more about getting involved in the traineeship.