Overseas truck drivers needed to fill shortage

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 31, 2022

New Zealand urgently needs more overseas truck drivers to fill a growing shortage, according to National Road Carriers chief operating officer James Smith.

Smith said New Zealand needs thousands more people in the transport and distribution sectors.

“The people crisis is becoming glaringly obvious. People in the industry are giving up because they are exhausted,” he said.

“Employees in their 50s are retiring – selling up in Auckland, making the most of the recent property boom to cash in and downsize out of the city. And the problem is compounded by overseas recruitment agents targeting New Zealand employees via LinkedIn and Facebook.”

Smith said New Zealand’s immigration processes to fill the gaps are slow and clunky.

“Government officials are sitting on a whole pile of applications for residency and citizenship that are not being processed. We desperately need these people,” he said.

“We should be making it as easy as possible for people to come here and stay here by giving them a pathway to citizenship. We’ve done it before.”

Smith said truck-driver vacancies cannot not be filled by most long-term unemployed New Zealanders who would struggle to drive a heavy vehicle.

“Some companies have had vacancies for more than a year. One landscape supplies company I visited recently has been advertising for a class 2 driver and a yardman for a year and has had no applicants at all,” he said

According to Smith, the problem is industry-wide.

“If there is no one to drive the truck or fork-hoist, guess what? The truck isn’t going anywhere. And if there is no mechanic and no one to change the tyres, it’s the same story,” he said.

“The economy is going to stall if we don’t get more people. We need to make New Zealand more attractive for people to work here. We need the same amount of effort applied to the immigration pathway to enable people to come to New Zealand to work and gain citizenship as we do to promoting tourism.

“We live in a highly competitive global economy and New Zealand should be attractive to people who want to get further away from the world’s trouble spots.”