Government’s driver training boost
A NATIONAL COMMERCIAL DRIVER training programme given a $2.8million boost from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will have the ability to train up to 700 drivers and machine operators a year, reckons Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
e PGF money will go to the Manfeild Park Trust in Feilding – to expand its current Class 1 driver training programme into a full suite of driver and operator training, covering trucks, diggers, 4WDs, forklifts and rollers.
e funding will also support capital works required to build new training facilities at the Manfeild site, including specialist training tracks.
Jones says there is “a real demand for skilled drivers and machinery operators nationally,” and there are major construction projects in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, including the Manawatu Gorge alternative road route and the establishment of a new KiwiRail hub near Palmerston North.
e region also has an expanding role as a major distribution centre for the lower North Island, says Jones, adding: “We know that ManawatuWhanganui has high levels of unemployment and under-utilisation. is investment will ensure more people in the region have the opportunity to gain meaningful employment.
“is will be the most comprehensive vehicle training facility of this type in the lower North Island. is is an opportunity for the region to lead this kind of training nationally as well.
“rough the PGF the Government is responding to local needs, by funding projects which will make a real dierence to regions and their people.”
Road Transport Forum chief executive Ken Shirley welcomes the PGF investment and says it’s “an acknowledgment of the importance of skilled commercial drivers to the economy and the employment opportunities available to those who undertake such training, especially in the regions.
“It’s well-known that NZ is lacking in skilled commercial drivers. RTF has estimated that the road transport industry alone is around 4000 heavy vehicle drivers short – a situation that is duplicated in many other developed economies,” adds Shirley.
“RTF and the road transport industry welcome this investment and look forward to working with the Government in other policy areas, such as immigration, to nd further solutions to the current workforce shortage.”