New committee to address Quebec driver shortage

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MONTREAL, Que. – A government committee involving several ministries is expected to meet for the first time in February to address what’s seen as an increasing shortage of truck drivers in the province.

“Our prediction, and this is just for our members, is that we will need 2,000 drivers in the short term. We could employ two-thirds of them right now. There is a major shortage of skilled drivers in the industry, especially for long-distance,” says Claude Pigeon, executive vice-president of the Quebec Trucking Association. “The two (government) schools cannot answer the needs of the industry.”

Last year Camo-route Inc., a Montreal research and resource company specializing in the trucking industry, commissioned a study that foresaw a need for 3,555 new drivers by the end of 2000.

“I don’t know how we are going to fill the need,” says Guy Normandeau, Camo-route’s director general.

Transports Quebec says that industry stakeholders, including Camo-route, the QTA and Teamsters, will try to find a solution to the problem, but the QTA says it really boils down to money.

“We’re looking for financial support … to support the training we need in the private schools, as well as in the public schools,” explains Pigeon. “There is a lot of money invested in training people in different sectors of the population.”

The trucking industry wants a larger share, he says.

The QTA has four goals in the new process: Obtain government money to train new drivers; and have existing government departments support the training, fund private driver training schools, and get money to QTA member companies to support in-house training.

The possibility of funding private schools will, supposedly, be on the table. Besides the two government driver schools, which offer 615-hour professional studies diplomas for drivers, there are just two other schools in Quebec – both of which are privately owned – that have the required government accreditation for offering diploma programs.

There is still no word on how many times the committee will meet, or when its conclusions will be published.n

Apprenticeship program finds

a new life

By Carroll McCormick

MONTREAL, Que. – Emploi-Quebec’s driver apprenticeship program seems to have dried up, but Camo-route – a Montreal research and resource company specializing in the trucking industry – has already redesigned it as an in-house skills upgrading program for carriers.

“By March we should have something in the field,” says Guy Normandeau, Camo-route’s director general. “The idea of skills upgrading is that 90 per cent of trucking is a matter of specialized fields – tankers, bulk, dry van, reefers, flatbed, local, inter-provincial, international … Most trucking companies will tell you they are specialized carriers. We decided to go with the same approach.”

So far, Camo-route has designed skill upgrade packages for cross-border loads, dry van and reefer applications. A package for flatbed drivers is partially written and Camo-route is finalizing the programs, documentation and exams. Later on, packages will be prepared for other areas.

“We are developing a turnkey toolkit. We will train the trainers … in-house with their drivers,” Normandeau explains. Sometime in the future, says Normandeau, the programs will be available on CD ROMs.

The companies will be responsible for administering the programs. The length of the courses is not fixed, but depends on how long it takes a driver to master the skills. A small portion of each program will be in the classroom, but most will be in the field.

The program also includes a comprehensive test that assesses the strengths and weaknesses in truckers’ knowledge of their jobs and how they make decisions. The test can also determine whether truckers, in making decisions, do not care about a particular regulation or are simply unaware of it. n

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