27 May 2012

Roading workforce, training worry transport officials

5:17 pm on 27 May 2012

Official papers reveal transport officials are worried about the roading industry's ability to attract younger workers and deliver value for money.

The Government wants to save tens of millions of dollars a year in the sector, after effectively freezing maintenance and renewal budgets for highways and local roads for a decade.

An April briefing to the Transport Minister says there is increasing concern about people and capability across the roading sector which is limiting the ability to deliver value for money.

The Transport Agency document says this relates especially to an ageing workforce, training, and the number of people entering the industry.

It says further developing skills, as well as raising perceptions of the attractiveness of careers in the maintenance and operations area, are important for building capacity.

The roading industry says it is trying to make the sector more attractive to younger people.

Road New Zealand chief executive Chris Olsen the industry is developing a trades model to provide clear career paths and recognise people's skills.

But he says it will be problematic if the new model doesn't attract enough people and motorists will see a reduction in the quality of the work on the roading system.

An interim report this week said the Government's aim of operating within current funding levels for a decade was possible if there are major changes in the roading sector, including moving to longer-term contracts and managing the network smarter.