If we want it done…

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Gavin MyersApril 29, 2022

When you were young, what was it you dreamt of being? Given the audience of New Zealand Trucking, there’s a high probability the answer to that would be ‘truck driver’.

Let’s say you held onto the dream of being a truck driver and did whatever you could to be in or around trucks. Wash them at your local carrier during weekends, go for rides during school holidays, that sort of thing. Before you knew it, 10 to 15 years later, you’re in it, boots and all, happy-as and doing your thing on the nation’s roads. Just as you always imagined.

It could be fair to say that this is a scenario playing out more and more infrequently as the years pass. We know that fewer kids dream of driving trucks; the excitement and mystique that once surrounded the industry is waning. We know a large reason for this is that trucking companies have less freedom to allow ‘the next generation’ into their yards and trucks to foster and grow those dreams early. And we know that, most worrying of all, there’s a lack of understanding by Joe Public about how the supply chain works and by the legislators and politicians about how the industry operates.

It probably goes one step further with the incumbent regime, which pays lip service to the industry, sure, but has a record of doing little to support its future. Quite the opposite, in fact. The past few years have only introduced more operational difficulties, more problems than solutions.

Compare that with the United States, which in the first quarter of this year pushed forward with the Trucking Action Plan to Strengthen America’s Trucking Workforce to “support and expand access to quality driving jobs now and in the years ahead”. The key focus areas were to reduce the barriers associated with gaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL); a 90-day national effort to accelerate the expansion of registered apprenticeship programmes; veterans-focused outreach and recruitment; and the joint Driving Good Jobs initiative, a partnership between the departments of Transport and Labor to “ensure a strong, safe, and stable trucking workforce.

Specific 30-, 60- and 90-day goals were listed to advance the plan, which has been deemed an unprecedented success. I usually take such statements by governments with a pinch of salt. But it’s hard to argue with a doubling in CDL processing compared to 2021 and more than 100 individual companies launching registered apprenticeship programmes during the 90 days.

What a fantastic thing – a government that realises the importance of the trucking industry, the challenges it’s facing, and the need to actively create an environment in which they can be addressed. Sure, it’s not the start and end of the US industry’s problems, but at least there’s a common understanding.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s trucking industry has been left to take the ‘if you want something done, do it yourself’ approach. It’s been left up to the industry and its associations to battle on and foster the next generation of truckies if it hopes to mitigate a problem that will only worsen with time. It’s never been more crucial, yet sadly more challenging, to promote the industry.

Take care out there,

Gavin Myers


Is the passion for truck driving getting lost? Is it becoming just another job? That’s the topic of the 5-Minute Moot, which the team discusses in Episode 8 of the Keep on Moving Podcast. Listen now!