New Zealand seeks to recruit 1,000 Irish truck drivers

‘Relaxed’ Kiwi lifestyle said to be one of the attractions for would-be Irish emigrants

Irish long distance drivers are being invited to travel a very long distance to get work. New Zealand is looking to recruit up to 1,000 truck drivers from overseas as it cannot fill the vacancies internally.

It takes three years to qualify as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver in New Zealand and many young Kiwis are not attracted to the job.

Recruitment firm Canstaff is offering a new relocation package to overseas heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from Ireland to fill the skills shortage. In some cases haulage companies will pay the cost of flights to New Zealand.

Irish truck drivers can earn between €15 and €20 an hour in New Zealand. In Ireland the rate is closer to €12 an hour, according to Canstaff managing director Matt Jones.

Mr Jones said he had spent a lot of time in Ireland in 2011 and 2012 recruiting construction workers to rebuild Christchurch which had been badly damaged in an earthquake.

“When I was there recruiting in 2011 and 2012 there was no jobs in Ireland. Clearly the economy has improved. This is about coming to have an experience of New Zealand. You are going to make more money than a truck driver in Ireland.

"Ideally it would be single fellows rather than those who want to relocate with their families. The biggest thing in New Zealand is finding your way around. Google maps is only so good and it's not always right."

The average reported salary for a New Zealand truck driver last year was NZ$51,200 (€31,000), but wages have gone up by 20 per cent to attract the right candidates.

“We realised how dire the shortage was when we could physically see the number of trucks parked up and out of use due to the lack of drivers,” Mr Jones added.

“Despite Government initiatives to attract more heavy vehicle drivers, the shortage has been ongoing and a more immediate solution is needed to keep New Zealand’s wheels of commerce turning.”

He said Irish drivers would be attracted by the “relaxed Kiwi lifestyle”, guaranteed shifts and “top dollar wages”.

Applicants are required to have a class five licence or equivalent to operate a heavy combination truck and trailer unit up to 25,000 kgs GCW, two years experience, and be eligible for a visa.

Canstaff is also bringing 70 New Zealand dairy workers to Ireland to work on Irish farms. In June next year 70 Irish dairy workers will work in New Zealand.