Operators can be forgiven feeling they are facing a perfect storm when it comes recruiting and retaining drivers with the well publicised driver shortage and the threat by the NZTA to focus on driver behaviour and exiting those drivers it feels are unsafe along with the potential for disruption to driver training with the recent re-aligning of the tertiary sector and the disbanding of the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) sector.

Nevertheless, as a responsible operator it is up to you to ensure that you have the drivers to meet your operational needs. 

There are a number of options a company has to ensure it has sufficient drivers to service its customers:

  1. Improve pay and conditions to retain good drivers; You should be doing all you can to retain good staff, they are the visible face of your company and effectively control your reputation, and that of the industry, with the general public and your customers.
  2. Train your own staff: A significant expense (investment) but means you will get drivers who have been raised in the culture of your organisation but it takes time and you must be prepared to work to retain their loyalty.
  3. Employ recently qualified graduates from a driver training programme: Quicker than training your own from scratch but still time consuming as they will need significant assistance to match your experienced drivers and they will not have grown up in your culture – for better or worse. By completing the course they have proved their commitment and, chosen carefully, will be a worthwhile investment.
  4. Import foreign drivers: A bit of a lottery as far as quality goes and they are likely to need a significant commitment to assist them operate in NZ conditions including knowledge of Rules and language and with Covid19 almost impossible to get.
  5. Employing from the current driver workforce (Poaching): While this can give you the knowledgeable and professional driver you are looking for you can also end up with someone that his last employer was happy to see the back of. While poaching has a long and proud history it is essentially cannibalistic and does not help grow the talent pool.


All the sector organisations are, to one degree or other, working to show that driving is a worthwhile career choice with viable prospects and a long term future, however, unless operators are prepared to give inexperienced drivers a chance the driver shortage will continue.

Based on your own needs you must make the right decision for your business, something you can only do accurately if you have the management tools within your business to provide you with the information you need.