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Auckland job seekers overtaking busdriver shortage

Auckland job seekers overtaking bus driver shortage

A long-standing shortage of bus drivers in central Auckland has created new employment opportunities for dozens of job seekers eager to work in the passenger transport industry.

In January this year mounting shortages of drivers with heavy transport (Class 2) licences and passenger transport endorsements led to the awarding of a Work and Income training contract to Ezi Drive Limited.

The contract was for an initial 20 job seekers and was awarded after consultation with key stakeholders including the National Road Carriers Association, Auckland transport and bus operators and the Industry Training Organisation.

In mid February the first group of job seekers began training at the Howick and Eastern Bus Company, gaining practical driving experience and New Zealand Qualifications Authority standards during the four week course.

Six trainees completed the course successfully, gained their Class 2 licence and passenger endorsement and were employed by the Howick and Eastern Bus Company.

A second group of seven job seekers began training on 10 March and after completion of the course four were also employed by Howick and Eastern Buses. The remaining three trainees gained jobs at Birkenhead Transport, Ritchies and Murphy Buses.

The last six job seekers from the initial contract underwent training in May before moving into jobs, again at Howick and Eastern Buses.

Following on from the success of the first contract, Work and Income subsequently awarded funding for the training of a further 18 job seekers, all of whom have now completed Ezi Drive's four week training programme. Most, if not all, are likely to be employed by Auckland passenger tranport provider Urban Express.

Associate Social Development and Employment Minister Rick Barker said the work placement ratio from the initial contracts was so successful, Work and Income has now funded Ezi Drive for the training of a further 50 drivers in the Auckland region, beginning in August.

"This initiative reinforces the government's commitment to help more people into sustainable work and, in this case, alleviate a major skill shortage in New Zealand's most traffic-conscious city.

"This programme is a real winner, not least of all the taxpayer because the trainees are moving off benefits and taking up good jobs."

Bill Dalbeth, chief executive officer of Howick and Eastern Buses, said he was very happy with Work and Income's support of the driver training programme.

"The energy and commitment shown by Work and Income, and in particular Work Broker Alex Filyaev, has been very impressive.

"That, combined with Ezi Drive's ability to tailor their training to meet our specific requirements, is what's made this programme such a success."

Mr Dalbeth said bus patronage in Auckland was experiencing unprecedented growth and training new drivers for the passenger transport industry was essential.

Ezi Drive course director Zane Gray said the calibre of Work and Income job seekers applying for positions on the bus driving course was reflected in the high job placement rate they achieved.

"We've achieved roughly one hundred per cent placement of trainees into work because both Ezi Drive and representatives from the bus companies are involved in the selection process.

"When the candidates are chosen, they go into the training knowing that if they achieve the desired result, they will almost certainly be employed in the passenger transport industry. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."

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