OTTAWA, Ont. -- Representatives from the trucking industry, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, educational institutions, government ministries and insurance companies came together to discuss best practices for training and licensing truck drivers at Closing the Gap. The meeting, held in Toronto, began in 2005 to address the shortage of skilled truck drivers in Canada.
"Trucking has gained a lot out of ‘Closing the Gap,’" said Roy Craigen, chairman of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC), which coordinates the meetings. "CTHRC’s responsibility is to raise the standards of training in the trucking industry. This helps to make it possible."
"Labour Market Agreements have recognized that provinces and territories are well positioned to design and deliver labour market training within their jurisdictions. Information gathered through the CTHRC and Closing the Gap has helped them to identify the related opportunities," agreed CTHRC executive director Linda Gauthier.
"Overall what we’re seeing is an increasing knowledge content in the jobs," said Francois Lamontagne of HRSDC, during a presentation at the summit. "[Technology such as] GPS and onboard computer systems are forcing drivers, forcing employers, forcing institutions to adapt training and skills development."
A number of provinces have tried different approaches to adapt to this new reality. For example, in Alberta, graduates from the Professional Driver Certificate Program at Red Deer College will soon receive a new Professional Driver Licence endorsement to their Class 1 from Alberta Transportation.
"We wanted to go to the post-secondary system because we wanted to raise the profile [of careers behind the wheel]," said Cliff Soper of the Transportation Training and Development Association. The approach is also cost-friendly, with tuition costing $3,200 compared to fees in the private sector that would approach $14,000.
In B.C., the British Columbia Trucking Associationis hoping to offer a series of HR workshops in the new year.
"All of us involved in the trucking industry recognize that licensing standard are the minimum standards of entry," said Louise Yako of the BCTA, adding that the province could stand improvement with certain elements of its standards.
On the East Coast, Newfoundland-based DD Transport has partnered with other truck fleets to deliver CTHRC’s Earning Your Wheels entry-level driver training program through the College of the North Atlantic. The pilot project combines uniform training standards, on-the job experience and candidate screening, according to organizers.
The summit also heard from Manitoba Public Insurance, which has developed a program that includes an online aptitude assessment for candidates. Students who pass that screening process receive 244 hours of school-based training, three months of on-the-job training and six months of mentoring, according to sources, adding that the related tuition is covered as long as they work in the industry for two years.
“While road tests help to measure basic aptitude behind the wheel, they do little to identify the vocational skills that modern truckers need for successful careers,” said officials in a release. “This is why participants at an earlier Closing the Gap summit had concluded that training programs for truck drivers should meet National Occupational Standards to be eligible for government training funds.”