INDUSTRY RIGHT BEHIND SOUTH CANTERBURY TRAINING COURSE REVIVAL
IN PREVIOUS ARTICLES I HAVE HIGHLIGHTED THE need for industry to support training initiatives – essentially, aligning industry to the tertiary institute training programmes.
There are a few reasons why: These programmes are now attracting support from Government in the form of free fees – and they’re not limited to school leavers, but are also for students who have never undertaken a level 3 programme.
Secondly, it has been unfairly said that these programmes are not producing experienced drivers – something that’s incredibly difficult when 16 students have to share one truck! Hence industry needs to provide opportunities for students to gain experience – through cluster groups of operators working with the training provider.
Thirdly, if industry doesn’t support these programmes they windup very quickly. And the challenge involved in later resurrecting a course has been brought home in South Canterbury.
Ara Polytech is the former Aoraki Polytech, which has campuses in Christchurch and Timaru. The Timaru campus ceased commercial road transport courses some years ago.
For the past 10 months, local transport operators and the Timaru district economic development agency Aoraki Development, in partnership with Ara Polytech and assisted by SWEP, have worked together to launch a new programme starting this month.
This is the result of substantial collaboration and follows the Transport Sector Day held at the Timaru Raceway in March this year, which was supported by the South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce and Careers NZ.
Now enrolments are open for the New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Road Transport (Heavy
Vehicle Operator) Level 3 at Ara. The programme will fill the need for skilled transport and logistics workers in South Canterbury, where the transport and logistics industry is a large employer – and growing.
Alle McGrath, chief people officer at Hilton Haulage, says that historically there has not been a training and educational pathway into the region’s transport and logistics sector “for people to kickstart their careers in this field.”
As chair of the new Transport & Logistics Group overseeing the initiative, McGrath is pleased with the outcome: “With the challenging nature of the licensing process, it has been difficult to provide opportunities in terms of ‘opening the doors’ to people with little to no experience at driving trucks and operating forklifts.
“This programme now provides that opportunity for South Canterbury.”
Industry partners helped construct the content of the 30-week programme and an industry panel will continue to ensure that it delivers the key skills, knowledge and competencies that industry expects.
Road Transport Association of NZ chief executive Dennis
Robertson says the programme is “a great initiative for South Canterbury and the industry at large, to address the most pressing problem we have – the driver shortage.”
Twenty local businesses in the transport and logistics sector are on board and helping to drive the new course, working together for the good of the sector
Says Alle McGrath: “The fact that it has been designed and moulded by industry in a collaborative way, means that it has been set up for success – a programme that is targeted, relevant and includes a substantial dose of work placement within industry.”
Students gain their Class 2 licence on week two of the course, which means that they can achieve their Class 4 licence by the time the course finishes. Students also gain their F endorsement and First Aid Certificate, as well as learning many other key skills such as loading and unloading, risk management, route planning, dynamics and handling, customer service skills and fatigue management.
Successful completion of the course will see “well-rounded, skilled and qualified” students graduate with the required licences plus “a solid chunk of work experience gained on the ground – in the workplaces where they will gain permanent employment. It’s a winwin for employers and students,” McGrath says.
Industry partners, including Timaru Container Terminal, Moloney Distribution, Pye Group and Fulton Hogan, are more than ready to back the new programme, she adds: “The launch will be well supported and welcomed in the region. We could say it is well overdue.
“Other regions have had success in this space and we have spent time looking at their successes and learning from the programmes they have in place currently.
“The dedication from the industry to date – to support this programme and work with Ara to produce a programme that will deliver the outcomes we need: More skilled, motivated drivers and operators – suggests that there is a lot of interest and confidence in what the programme will deliver.”
Industry partners have committed to providing students with work placement opportunities and providing ongoing feedback to Ara, to make the programme as practical and relevant as possible.
Hilton Haulage is already gearing up to participate, says McGrath: “Like other local transport operators, Hilton Haulage will be providing work placement experience to students on the programme – giving them hands-on, practical, real-life experience within the transport environment.
“The programme will be run with ‘everyday transport life’ in mind – for example, students will be required to complete a logbook for each day on the programme, whether they’re in the classroom or out in the field.”
The key difference for the Ara course is that it is supported by an industry panel in which every member is from the transport industry.
Finally, another initiative that SWEP has been working to achieve is to relaunch the Accelerated Licensing Process. This is well under way at present and will complement the South Canterbury initiative.
This will be a feature for an upcoming article – providing a how-to guide to accelerate the graduated driver licence system…for qualifying companies to start cadetship and trainee programmes. T&D
Members of the industry panel supporting the Ara training programme are (from left): Steve Divers (SWEP), Rob McCoid (Fonterra), Hamish Bruce (H&J Bruce Transport), John Bromley (Timaru Container Terminal), Gordon Handy (Handy Group), Brett King (Fulton Hogan), Vaughan Moloney (Moloney Distribution), Michelle Pye (Pye Group), Laura Handy (Ara Institute) and chairperson Alle McGrath (Hilton Haulage). Aoraki Development’s Nigel Davenport is absent
Above left: Twenty transport and logistics companies are supporting the programmeRight: A Transport Sector Day in Timaru in March was part of the leadup to the launch of the new course