by Chris Tobin
Temuka solo mum Jazmin Warahi (27) always pictured herself behind the wheel of a truck and now she is drawing closer to fulfilling her goal.
She is a student on Ara Polytechnic’s New Zealand certificate in commercial transport (heavy vehicles) course and last week was undertaking some intensive driving at the Timaru International Motor Raceway at Levels.
“I’ve been home for nine years looking after two boys,” she said.
“But I needed a change and I’ve always had a passion for trucks. My dad is a truck driver for Pye Group and my older brother is a driver, too. I went out on trucks with my dad and this is something I want to do.”
Ms Warahi is one of 13 on the course. Four are women and ages range from 20 upwards.
Ara learning manager Laura Handy said nine students had completed the pilot course at the end of last year of whom seven had been offered jobs.
“Getting people into employment is our main goal and the pilot programme was hugely successful. We can’t thank the industry enough for what they have done for the students.”
The transport industry has thrown its full support behind the course.
South Canterbury, as in other parts of the country, has a shortage of drivers and the course has been seen as a way to address the problem.
An industry panel comprising representatives from Hilton Haulage, Pye Group, Fulton Hogan, Moloney Distribution, Fonterra, Timaru Container Terminal, Ara and Aoraki Development decided the students would gain valuable experience from more time driving.
As a result, trucks were made available for students to drive at the raceway.
Fonterra had two tankers, while other trucks came from Pye Group, Timaru Hire, Moloney Distribution, and Fulton Hogan which also provided an assessor as did Mainland Driving School.
Brett King, Fulton Hogan’s Central South Island and West Coast operations manager, said one of the advantages of the course was that students could get paid.
During the 30-week course they had the opportunity to have 490 hours’ paid employment.
“It makes it attractive and gives them the chance to get paid and also get a job at the end.”
He said the students were “very good”and Fulton Hogan had employed one from the last course.
“We all need drivers and it provides the start of a career; they [the students] will make the choice how far they will go.”
Ms Warahi said she was keeping her options open once the course finished.