Finding 1,000 more truck drivers is the goal, with the government’s Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP) joining forces with the trucking industry. The driver shortage is an ongoing nationwide issue and SWEP is working on enhancing employer’s access to skilled staff at the right place and time.
Identifying the problem
SWEP was established in 2016 and its objectives are simple:
- Increase the skilled workforce
- Contribute to industry growth
- Create more sustainable employment
- Right people at the right time
SWEP is developing a range of labour market solutions in sectors critical to New Zealand, and this includes road freight transport.
Diving right in
National Road Carriers is taking a leading role in this work with new appointee Steve Divers tasked with steering the initiative. The first big job will be finding ways to make it easier to become a truck driver. The job is to drive programmes that address the shortage of Class 5 drivers, where the need is greatest – for the biggest truck and trailer units weighing up to 44 tonnes and over – and generate interest from people to consider truck driving as a career option. The strategy is likely to focus on encouraging more drivers to get Class 2 licences and then encouraging them to seek the more advanced licenses to drive the heaviest trucks on the road.
What part can technology play?
Driving a modern truck are far more technical than in the past, with a number of systems on board that drivers need to handle. In fact, driving newer high tech trucks is like being in a living video game! Technology, such as GPS fleet tracking software, is in frequent use in the industry now. GPS fleet tracking systems don’t just give location and route information, but also provide real-time driver behaviour and vehicle analytics on web-based platforms accessible on desktop, tablet or mobile phone.
It’s noticeable that young people coming into the industry learn to use the technology very easily. As a generation that has grown up using Playstation and Xbox, they take to the GPS systems like a fish to water, which is good for companies as fleet tracking systems are in frequent use in the industry these days.
Features like Driver Scorecards allow firms to look at driving behaviour across the whole fleet. Usually scores are normalised against a standard distance and duration, to allow a fair comparison between drivers. Points are deducted for events, such as speeding or harsh braking, then daily scorecards are produced for individual drivers. Individual drivers can see their own metrics, such as speed, then compete with themselves or other drivers in the firm, to improve their scores.
The driver shortage is a major and ongoing issue for the road freight transport industry. But technology can offer a helping hand, and the ‘gamification’ aspect of high tech fleet tracking solutions has proven popular with young drivers entering the industry. It’s about getting ‘em in, then keeping ‘em!
Driver safety is also a key factor to finding and retaining drivers, download our free Driver Safety eBook for more details.