Efforts to ease the driver shortage in the road transport industry has attracted significant numbers of female students to a Commercial Road Transport Programme being held at Manukau Institute of Technology.
The course, the first of its kind at MIT, aims to graduate students with learner’s class 4 driving licenses.
Similar courses are already running at Toi Ohomai Polytechnic at Tauranga; North Tec, Whangarei; Eastern Institute of Technology at Gisborne; Whitireia Polytech, Porirua and Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill.
National Road Carriers Association, the country’s leading road transport organisation, is encouraging its members to support CRT courses as well as attract under 25-year olds to the industry.
Until now MIT has confined itself to running courses aimed more at the administrative side of road transport – logistics and freight.
The seven-months course is equally divided between classroom and practical work.
“Anybody can start with just a car license,” said Vaughan Lovelock, the Head of Practice and Logistics at MIT.
The course takes students through all the theory to gain a class 2 license as well as the practical experience.
This involves one day a week placement with an operational trucking company as well as using a driving simulator and gaining practical experience in forklift driving.
Nationally, the Sector Workforce Employment Programme set up early last year to encourage more drivers into the industry has seen a 10 per cent rise in the issuing of Class five licenses which allow drivers to use the largest truck and trailer units.
“The success of the CRT courses depends on the industry setting up cluster groups of trucking companies to support the programme and to provide the on the job practical experience which is all part of the course,” said Steve Divers, the Director – Career Pathways – Road Freight Transport for SWEP.
Apart from the women at MIT, the current course at Invercargill has an equal split between male and female students.
Mr Divers is also encouraging the establishment of CRT programmes at Ara Polytech, Timaru; in Christchurch; Hawkes Bay and Hamilton.
The other part of the equation to train more drivers is the reconfiguration of qualifications including gateway programmes run by the Motor Industry Training Organisation to meet the latest New Zealand Qualification Authority standards.
“This is the critical link between school and the industry clusters,” said Mr Divers.
These are primarily aimed at school leavers and certainly under 25-year olds said Mr Divers, to provide cadetships within the industry to gain experience while undertaking study.
“Adult students who are re-training to join the transport industry are certainly important,” said Mr Divers. “But the Under 25s are the long-term future of the industry.”
Careers expos have already been held in Rotorua and Timaru and others are planned for Feilding, Tauranga, Taupo, Auckland, and Nelson – Marlborough.
Mr Divers said plans were on track to launch the new MITO strategy at an industry “Big Day Out” at Tauranga in August.