The current economic downturn may have temporarily reduced the need for drivers, but the shortage of qualified people to place behind the wheel is sure to resurface with the next economic rebound.
During the previous economic growth period, 41.5% of fleets found that the shortage of drivers affected their ability to move freight, with 73.2% of them having to refuse or delay the movement of goods while 39.2% had to delay or cancel expansion plans, according to research conducted for the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council.
Given expected future demand, you may want to look for candidates among employees who perform other tasks, or untrained job applicants who display the right attitude and work ethic. They may be eligible for financial help to cover costs that relate to driver training.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
More than a third of the students at driver training schools rely on funds from the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (formerly Human Resources Development Canada). However, the funds are limited to those who became unemployed in the past three years, or who filed for maternity leave in the past five years and then stayed out of the workforce to care for their families.
Assistance is negotiated on an individual basis, but keep in mind that those who participate in skills development programs are normally required to contribute some of the training costs.
Every province offers interest-free student loans for post-secondary education and training, and they’re often the only financial assistance available to those who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance or receive social assistance.
However, training programs typically need to be at least 12 weeks in duration to qualify, and need to be approved by provinces and territories.
The first point of contact for such funds is usually the student aid office within the institution offering the driver training program.
The Canada Student Loan can provide about $165 per week, while its provincial counterparts can pay out approximately $110 per week.
Qualifications for the funds range from Canadian citizenship to good credit ratings, and payments on the principal and interest will have to begin six months after the student completes the training or leaves school. ABORIGINAL ASSISTANCE
Many Aboriginal Human Resources Development Agreement Holders (AHRDA) offer financial assistance to community members who want to acquire driver training.
However, the type and availability of funds will vary from one organization to another. Members who might qualify for these funds should contact their local Bands, and economic development or education organizations.
Those who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance or social assistance may fall in a gap of available training funds. Their only choice could be bank loans, although some fleets and major resource companies will often sponsor existing employees who want to acquire licences.
WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD
The Workers Compensation Board will often retrain clients who are unable to return to the same type of work, although assistance is determined on a case-by-case basis. This may not help train future drivers, but it could play a role in funding workers assigned to other tasks, such as dispatching or office work.
The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) is an incorporated non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors that is representative of stakeholders from the Canadian trucking industry. With the conviction that the best human resources skills and practices are essential to the attainment of excellence by the Canadian trucking industry, the mission of the Council is “to assist the Canadian trucking industry to recruit, train and retain the human resources needed to meet current and long-term requirements.” For more information, go to www.cthrc.com.
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