Growing Our Region

National Driver Training Centre set to meet employers’ needs

“Good things take time” is certainly a mantra Michael Barbour, project manager of the  National Driver Training Centre (NDTC), Manfeild would stand by. Last month, after over two years of preparation, the Centre, based in Feilding was awarded $2.8 million in Provincial Growth Funding towards the expansion of its programme.
“The process to apply for and receive Provincial Growth Funding is extremely robust,” says Michael.

“A huge amount of work went into our application, including numerous meetings and presentations with associated groups and officials.

“I firmly believe the key to our success was our collaborative approach, we pulled in government agencies, businesses, the education sector, territorial authorities and of course the  Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) and Accelerate25.”

The Regional Growth Study, published in 2015, identified a disconnect between district authorities within the Manawatū-Whanganui region, resulting in low growth and underutilised resources. It is one of the reasons Manawatū-Whanganui was identified as a surge region by central government.

Michael is confident that attitude is changing.

“We received support from across the region, with all involved seeing the benefits of our programme.
“Without that support I think we would have struggled to achieve a successful funding bid.”

Now that the funding bid has been successful, the next step for Michael and his team is to implement the programme.

The bulk of the funding will go towards the building of training infrastructure that is not readily available elsewhere for all classes of licensing. Delivery of the courses will begin in February next year, with the expectation that all infrastructure will be in place within 12 months.

“Our programme allows existing driver training providers to teach people how to drive any class of vehicle in a “real life” environment, under safe conditions,” says Michael.

“It is suitable for cars, trucks, tractors, side-by-sides, forklifts, any vehicles really.”

The ability to deliver these types of training programmes is so important right now due to the number of civil construction projects which will be on-going in the Manawatū-Whanganui region over the next ten years.

“Essentially we need to ensure that we are creating a workforce who is ready to take on the upcoming roles available.”

Projects such as the Manawatū Gorge realignment, the Regional Freight Ring Road and the Ōtaki to North of Levin Expressway are expected to see a surge in jobs for the region. While piloting the National Driver Training Programme over the last two years, 500 people have been through the licensing system for all classes of licenses. Once the programme kicks off in February, Michael expects 1,000 people per year to be gaining all licenses.

“We are developing a facility which all can use, we can enhance the offer of training providers by providing the appropriate training environment,” says Michael.

“It’s all about building a partnership, the NTDC do not run the courses, instead we provide the infrastructure and facilities.”

The NDTC is making sure we as a region are prepared for the numerous opportunities coming our way. Ultimately Michael and his team are focused on creating a skilled workforce, based locally, who will have the ability to take on all that is presented to them.