The Government’s short-sighted decision to withdraw testing for restricted and full driver licences in some rural areas is having a knock-on effect on kids living in those regions, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darien Fenton.
“The Government has put pressure on young people to find work, with pre-employment drug checks, sanctions on benefits, a 90 day trial period and cuts to minimum youth wage rates, while at the same time making it harder for many of them to get work by having a driver’s licence.
“The irony is that we are seeing a shortage in driving jobs, such as trucking, with the industry saying that not enough kids are coming through with the necessary licences.
“The costs of sitting a licence are much steeper for a family living outside main centres and the temptation to drive without a licence is very real.
“This has led to a dependence on migrant drivers, while our rural kids miss out on the opportunity to take up work.
“It’s already hard for kids in rural towns to find work. They are much more dependent on cars because they don’t have the same public transport options as their peers in larger cities.
“The government needs to tell rural communities how it intends to rectify this gap so those young people have the same chance at jobs as those in cities and are not forced to take risks by driving without a licence.”