TT&DA Making Progress Towards New Training Standards
September 1, 2003
RED DEER, Alta. - After five years of haggling with the provincial government in hopes of launching a superior, well-rounded training program for truck drivers, the Transportation Training & Developme...
RED DEER, Alta. – After five years of haggling with the provincial government in hopes of launching a superior, well-rounded training program for truck drivers, the Transportation Training & Development Association has taken a giant step forward.
In fact, the organization inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Alberta’s Learning Minister, Lyle Oberg May 12, giving the group hope that years of hard work will finally be rewarded.
Originally, TT&DA aimed to have Alberta Learning recognize truck driving as a trade that would allow for an apprenticeship program. That vision has been somewhat revised (Alberta Learning has insisted truck driving doesn’t fit the traditional model for an apprenticeship program), but the association is still on the verge of launching an in-depth training curriculum that will take truck driver training to the next level and raise the bar across Canada.
“If we’re successful in getting this program in place, it would be good for all stakeholders,” TT&DA president, Darshan Kailly told attendees at a board meeting in Red Deer, July 31.
The latest draft of the program consists of three phases. Phase 1 consists of six weeks of training based on the Canadian Trucking Human Resource Council (CTHRC) Earning Your Wheels program. This will include classroom and driving time and will qualify students to take their driving test to earn a Class 1 licence.
Phase 2 will also be six weeks in duration, and will take place at an industrial site where students will be paired up with a coach or mentor who will teach them the skills necessary for their particular area of interest.
“They’re still a student at this point,” explains TT&DA executive director, Cliff Soper. “It’s like a lab. You have a coach/mentor there with whom you work for six weeks and learn a lot of the specified skills and are tested on it.”
The third phase will see students matched up with a trucking company for a 42-week paid internship, where they will gain real-life skills and experience behind the wheel. Students who complete the one-year course will be recognized as Certified Professional Drivers – ideally people that fleets can hire knowing they’ve received the best training available.
The TT&DA has been in talks with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in hopes the well-established technical school will help deliver the program. Private truck driver training schools will also be involved in the program.
“It’s a fairly complex situation with the private providers and Alberta Learning not being responsible for those private providers,” says Soper, noting private training schools report to Alberta Transportation instead.
Kailly says the first pilot project will be launched in March 2004 and it will be followed by another pilot project just a couple months later.
“We need to cut through red tape and get something on the ground and show the government that we’re ready to have this program bear fruit,” Kailly told board members. “I look forward to launching the program this coming spring and showing something concrete. It’s been a long five years.”
Alberta Transportation has been asked to chip in $200,000 towards the initiative and Alberta Learning will also be approached for an operational grant. Students accepted into the program will qualify for student loans and may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits while taking the program.
Soper says although it’s not technically an apprenticeship, the revised program is still superior to existing programs.
“We’re going now in the direction we had wanted to be all along,” says Soper. “I think it will be a positive result for sure and we’re quite encouraged to see everyone wanting to cooperate.”
The biggest difference between the proposed TT&DA program and an apprenticeship program is that apprentices are usually hired beforehand by an employer.
Prospective students of the TT&DA program, however, will complete most of their training before being hired.
That’s why it’s crucial the province’s carriers support the program.
“Right now we have to deal with the administrative part and get all the materials together but while we’re doing that, we’re approaching a lot of the carriers and anybody who might have an interest in becoming a trainer,” says Soper. “There’s interest in the whole concept, but … people have to sign up for it. Now comes the crunch because people have to step up to the plate and they have to put out resources and whatnot.”
In other TT&DA news, there’s a slightly different board of directors in place to move this project forward.
Elections were held at the association’s annual general meeting.
The following directors will sit on the board for the next calendar year: Chris Batty, Greyhound Canada; Roger Clarke, Alberta Transportation; Steve Dormaar, SK Driver Training; Roy Finley, Teamsters; Kailly, Canadian Freightways; Michael Kulchisky, Red Deer College; Richard Maloney, Mullen Transportation; Kim Royal, Alberta Motor Transport Association; Stan Weber, Cardinal Coach Lines; and Linda Gauthier, CTHRC.