TORONTO, Ont. - The Ontario trucking industry will benefit from a new $5,000 tax credit for carriers involved in the trucking apprenticeship program. The funding was confirmed in the provincial budget...
FIRST IN LINE: Tim Atkinson (left) and Mike Yeo (centre) pose with KRTS's Kim Richardson after becoming the industry's first apprentices last summer.
TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario trucking industry will benefit from a new $5,000 tax credit for carriers involved in the trucking apprenticeship program. The funding was confirmed in the provincial budget announced in late March.
Participating carriers will receive a tax credit of $5,000 per apprentice under the program, which will pave the way for increased carrier and driver participation according to Kim Richardson, president of Kim Richardson Transportation Specialists, and a key stakeholder throughout the process.
“It’s just awesome news for our industry,” Richardson told Truck News. “It was on our shopping list when we initially met, because there really needs to be some incentives equal to other types of trades. It’s important to be on the same level and it gives the program credibility. This is what the carriers have been waiting for – they want to see some incentive for the investment they are putting forward.”
The voluntary apprenticeship program, which has been in operation for a year and a half, requires trucking companies to provide mentoring services and a prescribed regime of progressive skills development for new recruits. The apprenticeship program lasts 2,000 hours and takes up to a year. Upon completion, drivers receive a certificate. They must have a grade 10 education and an A/Z licence to take part in the program.
David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association, said the announcement is “a big step forward for the apprenticeship program that a number of OTA members and the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Chris Bentley worked so hard on to bring to fruition. The tax credit will definitely encourage more carriers to participate in the program and I’m very glad that the government recognizes the importance of providing new truck drivers with better training.”
Richardson said more than 50 apprentices have already enrolled in the program, which didn’t get underway in earnest until September. Some major carriers have already signed onto the program, but Richardson said small fleets have also recognized the benefits of taking part.
“Some of the really forward-thinking companies are getting involved, but what excites me is that some of the smaller ones are also showing interest. You don’t have to have 100 tractors to get involved, we have companies that have two to four tractors getting involved because one size does fit all in this case,” said Richardson.
The apprenticeship program is designed to compliment training received at a driving school, which in most cases doesn’t involve real-world experience.
“We’re not getting the quality out of the schools,” admitted Richardson, himself the owner of a driver training school. “The quality’s not there – we can only do so much. We can’t take someone on live load situations overnight, where they sleep in a coffee shop parking lot and back into various warehouse dock situations.”
Participating drivers are encouraged to get their basic training through a driving school and apply for the apprenticeship program when they already hold an A/Z licence. Brian Johnson, a driver with MacKinnon Transport, is one of the program’s early success stories. He opted to pursue trucking as a second career after hearing about the apprenticeship program.
“The apprenticeship program provides an opportunity to build on the skills learned in driving school and provides the framework and standards to meet the designation of a professional tractor-trailer operator,” he said. “It offers an additional, significant context for continuous learning in the first crucial year of driving and lays the groundwork for a safe, professional career.”
For more information about the apprenticeship program, as well as how to take part as a driver or participating carrier, visit www.drive4apprenticeship.com.