Truck News


Alberta driver training program no longer in jeopardy

RED DEER, Alta. - An Alberta professional driving program has been revamped to include a Class 1 component for heavy-duty transport, which is intended to appeal to both students and the trucking indus...

RED DEER, Alta. – An Alberta professional driving program has been revamped to include a Class 1 component for heavy-duty transport, which is intended to appeal to both students and the trucking industry, on many levels.

The expanded professional driver certificate pilot program is offered by Red Deer College in partnership with the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education and Training.

As of Jan. 21, 2008, the modified program was approved by the provincial government, and expanded to include a Class 1 license component, which is being offered over a 12-week period, rather than a now eliminated 20-week supervised work experience.

The training will include: eight weeks of in-class theory and incab supervised training, and a four-week supervised practicum placement with a carrier.

The newly expanded program is similar to an apprenticeship program, which will allow participating students to be eligible for employment insurance funding, one obvious financial benefit to the new program.

“More importantly, it’s no longer a post-Class 1 program,” says the Red Deer College program director, Dennis McCarty, who emphasizes the course has been designed for new and experienced drivers.

“It is a basic pre-Class 1 program, which means the student gets Class 1 (certification) within the program.”

The program director believes professional driver training is crucial for the trucking industry. Otherwise, he fears that the uninitiated may consider that driving a truck doesn’t require any specialized education, other than on-theroad experience.

“A lot of people have the misconception that driving a truck is a no-brainer.”

Instead, the reality is extremely complex, with an obvious requirement for mechanical and advanced technological skills.

However, professional drivers also require strong public relations skills, which are essential when dealing with clients, cargo personnel, regulatory officials and even unexpected cross-border delays.

“Students need to be better prepared professionals for on-theroad issues,” says McCarty.

However, without the newly expanded Class 1 component, and a more condensed course that offers financial benefits through accompanying EI benefits and more immediate employment, the previous 20-week program suffered from lack of sufficient participation.

This caused concern for a number of Alberta transportation stakeholders, which along with Red Deer College, proposed the successfully modified program.

As a result of the recent changes, there has been vast approval, including from the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA), according to an editorial on its Web site.

“This is a major step forward for the Professional Driver Certificate program but it is now up to the transportation industry to come forward with support and involvement,” the statement reads.

“Carriers and training schools need to encourage drivers to enroll, and carriers need to provide mentoring opportunities with their companies. Together, we can make this pilot program work and make the PDC program an Alberta Transportation Industry success! The result will be more ‘qualified’ drivers, which was the goal from the beginning.”

However, there is still one little glitch, and that is an element of dissatisfaction from “some private driving schools,” according to the AMTA’s Web site, about unfair competition.

However, the AMTA considers that any driving school can go through the process of becoming accredited to provide the training that meets the national standard for the industry.

The professional driver certificate pilot program is offered through Red Deer College at four locations: Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. Application requirements for the program, include: a valid Alberta Class 5 licence, driver abstract, a criminal record check, Alberta Grade 10 or equivalent, completion of TOWES (Test Of Workplace Essential Skills).

Once qualified, admission to the professional driver certificate pilot program will cost an estimated $3,430, which includes a $50 application fee, tuition and materials fee, and a student association fee. For more information about this training program, call toll-free 888-732-4630 or contact Dennis McCarty at 403-356-4861, or write to him at

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