An aging truckie workforce

THE AVERAGE New Zealand heavy truck driver’s age is 55-years-old, and about 25% of the country’s class five drivers are over 65, according to the Trucking Association. President David Boyce says it’s one of the industry’s greatest concerns, and it has a large bearing on drivers’ abilities to manage healthy lifestyles.

Statistics New Zealand data, from 2013, showed only 5.7% of the people working in the road freight transport industry in New Zealand were aged between 20-24-years-old. Those aged between 25-29 made up 6.7%, while the 30-34 and 35-39 age brackets comprised 7.5 and 10% of the workforce, respectively. More than 67% of the workforce, as per the 2013 census, were aged 40 or older.

The industry is also struggling to recruit younger drivers which is compounded by Ministry of Transport’s 2014 National Freight Demand Study, forecasting that the freight task in terms of tonnage will increase by around 58% over the next 30 years. Adding to this is the national driver shortage. If the industry is to recruit new drivers to the sector, then Mr Boyce says they need to act now. So too if they wish to retain the current and more mature workforce.

“What are we going to do when all the baby boomers leave our industry? The industry certainly needs to work on ways to attract the new generation. The traditional idea of working 14 hours a day isn’t that enticing for a generation that doesn’t want to work 70 hours a week because they want to spend time with their family. So, it’s a whole cultural change that is slow to take place but needs to happen much faster to attract the new workforce coming through, and retain our current employees.”