Comment: Taking on trainees

By: Fiona McDonagh, Te ara ki tua Road to success manager, Photography by: Supplied

Taking on a trainee? Here's what you need to know.

Taking on a Road to success trainee is good succession planning for your business and the wider industry

Why is a traineeship important now?

We believe in the industry solving its own problems where possible, and one of our biggest problems, even before the arrival Covid-19 was a growing shortage of truck drivers.

Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand decided the time was right for a dedicated truck driver traineeship to address this problem.

We believe that over time, this training will ensure a higher skilled and safer workforce, leading to a safer industry.

How can trainees help with continuity in your business?

As well as losing potential drivers (school leavers etc) to other industries, road transport also has an ageing workforce with the average age of driver in the mid-50s.

Te ara ki tua Road to success aims to bring a new and diverse range of people into the road transport industry and provide a career path for young people embarking on a new career.

Taking on a trainee is a smart succession planning strategy for managing the retirement of your senior drivers, which many operators will face over the next five years.

Having your experienced drivers share their knowledge and experience with a trainee before they retire is a great way to ensure a smooth transition and help younger staff learn your business and your customers.

What are the costs of a trainee?

While the Road to success traineeship is subsidised through our partnership with MSD, there is still a cost to manage and deliver the programme. We prioritise the traineeship because we consider addressing the driver shortage to be in the best interests of the industry as a whole.

There are some costs to employers in administering the traineeship. For Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand members, a Road to success-sourced trainee comes with a one-off fee of $1500 + GST.

If you source your own trainee and put them through the Road to success programme it will be $950 +GST. All subsequent trainees carry a fee of $750 +GST.

Due to the contract we negotiated with the Government, if your trainee is sourced through MSD, there will be no administration fee and therefore no cost to your business.

Furthermore, MSD may be able to subsidise approximately one-sixth of your trainee’s wages through their flexi-pay scheme as well as providing some financial assistance to the trainee for their work readiness.

Will I need to hire extra staff to manage my trainees?

We really want to dispel the myth that you will need to add extra human resources as part of the traineeship. There is no need to employ a dedicated driver trainer as the traineeship is based on gaining practical experience in the business, along with completing industry qualifications which are undertaken online.

Your existing drivers going about their usual day-to-day business are the best people to take a trainee under their wing and mentor them through the programme. You will also have access to an experienced Transporting New Zealand traineeship coordinator to provide additional support.

Will managing a trainee be extra work for my business?

Taking on a trainee will obviously increase the workload for your business in the short term. Transport operators who choose to take on a trainee are those that understand the big picture: the longevity of both the industry as a whole and of their businesses.

The advantages of building a relationship with a trainee who’s keen to become a proficient and safe driver, will likely outweigh added costs in the short term.

The benefits of an industry-wide traineeship programme will be felt both across the industry as a whole, as well as by businesses that choose to take part in directly improving their own workforce.

How long before a trainee is productive?

A trainee will start working and contributing in your company straight away. The whole premise of the traineeship is that they learn as they work. Obviously, any new employee will take some time to get right up to speed but bringing through a trainee is an investment in the future of not only your business, but the whole New Zealand road transport industry.

McCormack Transport owner Gavin McCormack was one of the first operators to get on board with Road to success and believes operators have an important role to play in helping young people gain experience in the industry.

"It’s a bit of time and effort, but they (operators) need to put something back into the industry, like some of us are doing. I’d definitely recommend it."

If you are an operator keen to recruit a Road to success trainee, please get in touch. There are plenty of prospective trainees waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Visit the Road to success website and fill out an application form to be part of the programme. 

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