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Special Report: Apprenticeship program could be partial cure

CALGARY, Alta. - Most experts agree that the skills shortage can be blamed, in part, on the lack of recognition trucking receives as a skilled trade.While other tradesmen such as electricians and plum...


CALGARY, Alta. – Most experts agree that the skills shortage can be blamed, in part, on the lack of recognition trucking receives as a skilled trade.

While other tradesmen such as electricians and plumbers can follow a well-structured career path that allows them to hone their skills, truckers – for the most part – are left to fend for themselves.

In Alberta, an effort is under way to make trucking a recognized trade and establish an apprenticeship program that will ultimately turn out better-trained drivers. Ideally, making truck driving a more respected trade would also attract more young people to the industry. Unfortunately, Alberta Learning has shot down the proposal, saying it doesn’t comply with their traditional apprenticeship model. Linda Gauthier, managing director of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council, says that the provincial government’s unwillingness to accept the program exemplifies the problem facing the industry.

“We don’t fit the regular model of apprenticeship but we know that there are a variety of other exceptions that have been made,” says Gauthier.

She suggests the government may be balking at the idea because of the large number of truckers who may request training.

“If it does get accepted, it will create a precedent and there would be a large numbers of truck drivers who would be involved in the training and that may tax the amount of money that would be available for training,” says Gauthier. But one of the program’s leading advocates, Transportation Training and Development Association president, Darshan Kailly, says that Alberta Learning insists it’s not about money.

“We’ve been told that the funding part is not the issue,” says Kailly, adding he has no reason to believe otherwise.

He says that because trucking doesn’t fit the traditional apprenticeship model, accepting the plan as it currently stands “opens the floodgates to other occupations.”

But Kailly says that it’s not unreasonable to accept trucking considering Alberta Learning currently runs apprenticeship programs for a wide range of occupations from locksmiths to hairstylists.

Although Alberta Learning has been reluctant to accept the program, Kailly is confident an agreement can be reached.

“It’s still a work in progress,” says Kailly, noting a number of revisions will be made to the proposal before it is resubmitted.


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