Let’s listen to young people

May 4, 2021 8:58 pm

If we don’t become proactive on climate change and the environment, our industry may be overlooked and left behind, says COO Simon Carson. 

Ageing workforce 

Alarmingly, statistics still send industry a clear and urgent message: 37 per cent of industry operators continue to report a shortage of drivers and about 25 per cent of drivers in the ageing workforce are over 60. A conservative estimate is that within five to six years about 20 per cent of our current driving workforce will need to be replaced. 

April 29 saw the official launch in Auckland of the RTF initiative, Ti ara ki tua, “Road to Success”. This traineeship is about recruiting into the transport industry, but at the same time it delivers a message for the transport industry to rethink its employment culture and look at how we are employing.  

Environmental concerns

Young people are our nation’s future, and if nothing else we need to listen to what they are saying if transport is to have the attraction that we work so hard for it to have. 

As an industry we also need to give some serious thought to the impact that moving freight has on the national and global environment. 

For the past three years, right across Aotearoa, people of school-leaving age have been gathering in their thousands to demand their voice is heard by government on environmental and climate change concerns. 

One topic the movement strongly demanded action on was investment in green infrastructure, alternative vehicles, and fuels, while ensuring those previously working in unsustainable industries were retrained for sustainable jobs. 

There is a fear that if we don’t become proactive on climate change and the environment, our industry may be overlooked and left behind by the very people we are trying to attract.

Livestock exports

In April 2021, the Labour government released a statement saying that all livestock exports from New Zealand by sea will stop by 2023. This announcement was met with mixed emotion, with livestock operators and farmers the ones being impacted the most.  

The decision to ban bulk live cattle exports was largely based on decision makers being influenced by the current scrutiny that animal welfare is under as well as pressure from the public, whose opinion seemed to have been largely supportive of the decision, and fuelled by media who tended to focus on poor conditions and export animal mortality rates. 

In 2019, the cattle export trade was worth $77 million dollars to the economy. Since 2015, an average of 60,000 cattle have been exported each year, with 110,000 being exported in 2020. In the same year, there were 19 large cattle export ocean freight shipments that departed our shores (excluding Gulf Livestock 1) and from the 110,000 cattle exported, the mortality rate closed out at 0.12 per cent, or 128 cattle. The Labour government stopped the live sea exports of sheep in 2003 and New Zealand has not exported livestock for slaughter since 2008. 

The expensive, and limited availability option of moving livestock by air will continue. 

Watch your costs

The more barriers that global trade builds to protect itself from COVID-19, the greater the cost of doing business. Is there a reset strategy after COVID, or does disruption and the global trade agitation from the past 18 months settle in as the new normal? 

As many transport operators look to assess their costs and implement general rate increases to their customer base, I urge you to clearly understand what your forecasted costs look like in the current and future market and adjust accordingly. Fuel prices are seeing increases from week to week, so please talk to us about protecting yourselves using a fuel adjustment factor.