Trucking industry desperately short of drivers

The trucking industry is desperately short of drivers and is about to start a new campaign to attract more.

The sector has struggled with the problem for years and hoped COVID-19 unemployment would bring in new workers. But that's not the case.

Some of Steve Doughty's trucks won't be leaving the yard - he's three drivers short for his busiest period.

"The shortage for us means assets parked up that we're not getting a return on," he says.

He delivers aggregate to Auckland subdivisions - an important job in a housing crisis.

"When we're under pressure in the peak season it's particularly challenging to get those deliveries done in a timely manner," he says.

In Wellington - it's a similar story.

"There's times where companies aren't moving freight on time because there aren't drivers, and sometimes you have a look and the trucks are just parked up," Debz Transport owner Deborah O'Brien says.

Debz Transport shifts the freight that arrives into Wellington's port from overseas.

"It's actually gotten worse over the last two or three years, because people don't see our industry as a career when there is a career here. It's a great industry to work in and I love it," O'Brien says.

A survey of  630 trucking companies in March last year found more than 80 percent of them think the driver shortage is very serious or serious. One in four had trucks parked up in their yards because there's no one to drive them.

It's a problem the industry was hoping would ease.

"We thought if the economy was going to take a hit that a lot of people would be looking for a career in truck driving, but we haven't seen that to the degree we thought we would," Road Transport Forum CEO Nick Leggett says.

A traineeship is being launched next month to get more Kiwis behind the wheel.

"Ninety-six percent of truck drivers are men so we've got to do more to attract women and younger people into the workforce," Leggett says.

This workforce hoping more will be joining its ranks soon.