If you’ve just qualified, or are going through training to become an HGV driver in Britain right now, then you know all about the issue of the driver shortage and how much UK haulage firms need new drivers. It might even be one of the reasons you started training in the first place. But if you thought the UK situation was bad, you need to take a look across the world at what New Zealand are currently dealing with. They are currently undergoing a major crisis in the haulage industry, and are in desperate need of licensed HGV drivers. And it’s not for the reasons you would think.
So why is New Zealand struggling with a driver shortage? Well, their main issue was actually caused by their own government. In 2018 the New Zealand government made the decision to remove Class 5 drivers from New Zealand’s list of skills in short supply among immigrants. This small change was not insignificant, and as it turns out, not very well thought out by the government. The ideas was simple – to put a stop to haulage firms hiring already licensed foreign drivers and instead get them to focus on hiring and training indigenous homeless residents. Seems like a good idea on the surface, but they overlooked one important thing. In New Zealand, it takes 3 years to train and qualify to be an HGV driver.
So what happened when the change came into effect? Around 112 haulage firms suddenly couldn’t run properly, and couldn’t attract any talent at all to fill the immediate need for new drivers. Even if every homeless resident of New Zealand had jumped at the chance and started training the day the regulations changed, there would still be a significant skills gap for 3 years. When asked, experts stated that the New Zealand haulage industry needed to find 400 drivers right away just to get things running normally again, and that’s before they could even think about things like expansion, or future planning for when those drivers retire.
The response? Haulage firms started hiring pre-licensed drivers from wherever they could – including Europe, India and Asia. Which is turns out is exactly the opposite of what the government wanted. So the government responded by making it more difficult for foreign drivers to remain in the country after their one-year work permit expires, trying to cut off the flow of foreign drivers in a different way. Drivers are now only really able to stay long-term if they apply for permanent resident status.
But because there is no workable local solution open to them, haulage firms in New Zealand are desperate for new HGV drivers, so if you fancy a change of scenery, you are pretty much guaranteed a job there.
Unfortunately, as regular readers will already know, this isn’t an uncommon problem. The UK has also been struggling with a drivers shortage for quite some time now, although our issues are more long-term, and not as a result of a regulation change. Instead, we are simply struggling to attract the number of new young drivers we need to replace seasoned ones as they retire, and this is causing a slow decline in the industry. We’re not quite at the crisis state of New Zealand, but in a few years we very much could be.
But we do have one thing on our side. In the UK it doesn’t take 3 years to train and qualify as an HGV driver. In fact, it can be done in a matter of weeks, if not months. This makes it much easier for us to get new drivers on the road and plug the gaps, keeping the industry going a little longer. Plus, all you need to get started is a full car driving license. If you have that, all you need to do is pass a medical exam and fill in some paperwork, and you can get your provisional license and get behind the wheel. From there you can train and take your theory and practical tests as quickly or slowly as you want, and know you have a wide variety of job options waiting when you pass.
If you would like to take your first steps towards a career in HGV driving, you’re in the right place. At The LGV Training Centre we pride ourselves on a nearly 100% pass rate first time for new drivers, with a team of experienced instructors and drivers on hand to pass on all of their industry knowledge, tips and tricks during training. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.