Greater Wellington welcomes easier route to residency for overseas bus drivers
Greater Wellington welcomed news today of a new temporary residence pathway and sector agreement programme that aims to attract more workers into rewarding public transport careers.
The programme was announced by Minister Michael Wood as part of a suite of measures to further support New Zealand businesses through the global labour shortage and the national driver shortage. Bus and truck drivers will now be able to access a time limited, two year residence pathway. A sector agreement alongside the pathway will support the work underway to improve better wages and conditions for bus drivers and local workforce development.
Daran Ponter, Chair of Greater Wellington, says it is welcome relief for an industry that is struggling to recruit in a low unemployment environment.
“This is fantastic news for our operators and opens up a new avenue of recruitment for them. We’ve been working with unions, operators and transport providers across the country to make this a priority. New Zealand’s transport industry needs thousands of new drivers and this programme serves as another tool towards building the pipeline of talent necessary to keep the industry ticking over.
“This move adds more people to the pool and puts in clear pathways to help them succeed and progress through immigration and onwards to a very rewarding career in public transport,” says Cr Ponter.
While the Government will need to consult further with transport stakeholders to embed the programme, Samantha Gain, General Manager of Metlink, says it will help bring certainty to passengers.
“This is a great outcome for Metlink passengers who have shown considerable patience and support for drivers through COVID-19 and the national bus driver shortage. We’re about 120 drivers short at present, so a programme of change like this from the Government is very timely and very welcome,” says Samantha Gain.