Truck driver training for single mother Benny Hone a dream come true

4:39 pm on 1 July 2019

The trucking industry has stepped in to help single mum Benny Hone get the training she needs to become a truck driver so she can support her 10 kids.

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Photo: 123RF

Ms Hone was working full time as a night-shift forklift driver, and told RNZ in May she had a dream of becoming a truck driver but could not afford the training.

She had been hoping the government's Budget would provide more training so parents like her, who were struggling to get by on minimum wage, could get better-paying jobs.

"You get better money in truck driving, I mean like we've got a lot of women who could drive really good. I wish I could but I don't have the money to do all those courses and that and getting all those licences," she said.

The truck industry is short of an estimated 4000 drivers, and only 5 percent of its current workforce are women.

The Budget did not deliver Ms Hone's dream to her, but Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett heard her story and decided something had to be done.

"New Zealand's trucking industry has a shortage of drivers and we thought 'well, there's somebody who's saying they're really keen to work in the industry and who's got a bit of an insight ... into what goes on and the realities of being a truck driver.

"So we thought 'well let's reach out and have a chat with her and see where she's placed' ... we worked through Work and Income in Hawke's Bay who've been excellent, and we have connected her to an employer who's said they'd be prepared to employ Benny once she gets her licence."

Work and Income is now helping Ms Hone get her Class 2 truck licence and, once she does, Hastings-based trucking company Emmerson Transport is keen to give her a job.

The company's HR manager, Russell Holland, said they were keen to get Ms Hone on board.

"We looked at her CV and we thought 'well there's some qualities in there', so we organised an interview, met with her and she impressed as somebody who could provide value as a driver for us," he said.

Mr Leggett said the industry wanted to attract more people like Ms Hone.

"We think that Benny's a great model for a lot of people out there who maybe want a change of career or maybe who are not in work but who have a sort of positive approach to life and trucking and road transport could be a great opportunity for them."

Ms Hone herself could not believe her dream was finally coming true.

"I didn't even think that this would even happen for me - because I [didn't] think I'd get the opportunity to get my class-two licence or even move to the step of getting my truck licence and driving a truck," Ms Hone said.

"Ever since I was young it's just the whole thing about driving a big machine on the roads, being on that seat in a big machine and going to places and just the whole scenery of driving on the roads ... with New Zealand and the beautiful scenery and everything."

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