Truckie shortage to get worse

A shortage of truck drivers in South Canterbury continues, with immigration changes set to take more off the road this month.

Immigration New Zealand is to remove truck driving from its Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) before March, leaving some operators short of experienced drivers.

Operators will then be forced to explore other options, including classified advertisements and Work and Income programmes, when they are looking for drivers.

The ISSL has helped operators recruit suitably experienced and qualified drivers from overseas.

Overseas drivers make up a considerable percentage of Geraldine transport company manager Nicola Woodley's staff and she still struggles to find suitably qualified and experienced people.

"We are finding we are in a state of flux waiting to find out when they are taking heavy trucks off the skills shortage list," she said. ‘The truth is that we can't find drivers; we have a few responses when we advertise but you can't just put anyone in those trucks. It is hard to attract drivers to come here."

A glance at yesterday's Herald classifieds showed several advertisements for truck drivers.

Stafford Personnel director Nick Light said there was a general shortage of truck drivers.

"Like all trades, it has been difficult to attract young people.

"You have to pay thousands of dollars these days to go and get your licence and then you end up with a licence and very little experience; no company is going to give you a $150,000 truck.

A lot of drivers had gone to Christchurch for the rebuild, demolition and civil work, he said.

At Hilton Haulage, director Peter McAuley also said it was hard to find drivers. The dairy industry was growing, along with the seasonal demand for vegetables, both sectors that required heavy transport.

The Timaru Herald