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Westcan Bulk Transport Signs Training Deal With Lakeland

SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. - Westcan Bulk Transport has formed a driver training partnership with Lakeland College that ensures the carrier's drivers are trained by a recognized and accredited training school.

SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. – Westcan Bulk Transport has formed a driver training partnership with Lakeland College that ensures the carrier’s drivers are trained by a recognized and accredited training school.

Previously, Westcan – like most other fleets – performed driver training in-house.

Under the new arrangement, classroom instruction is now conducted by Lakeland’s instructors, freeing up the time of Westcan’s safety supervisors, who were previously responsible for driver training.

“Currently our safety supervisors at each of our locations offer this training for new drivers. The student to instructor ratio is often one-to-one,” said Robin Doherty, director of safety, training and compliance for Westcan Bulk Transport. “Now we will send new employees from our locations in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Lloydminster, Calgary, Trail, Kamloops and Prince George to our Edmonton location for this training.”

He told Truck News that since the program began this summer “the student-instructor ratio has increased significantly.”

Now, about six or seven students are involved in each class, which has allowed the carrier’s safety supervisors to tend to other safety issues within the fleet.

“It really just relieved the safety supervisors of the task of giving one-on-one instruction to drivers and put them back out in the field,” Doherty said.

One of the other advantages for Westcan is they can now use the modern classroom equipment that Lakeland College has at its disposal.

“We’ve upgraded the use of technology we had in the classroom,” Doherty said. “And we’re able to create program content on the fly that’s always current.”

Westcan considered a number of training facilities before settling on Lakeland College for this initiative.

“Lakeland was selected in part because of the sheer convenience of location and the fact they have their professional transport operator program fully-operational,” Doherty said. “They have a good truck training program to begin with.”

He added the fact Lakeland is already approved to deliver the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council’s (CTHRC) Earning Your Wheels program was another factor in the decision.

“Westcan is one of Western Canada’s leading transportation companies and we’re proud that they recognize the strengths Lakeland College has in terms of transportation training,” said Ron Surry, manager of business development for Lakeland’s School of Trades and Technology.

So far, Westcan’s new drivers have been the benefactors and feedback from both the students and instructors has been positive, Doherty said.

“Everybody is happy with the results of the program,” he told Truck News.

Brian Lupul, dean of the School of Trades and Technology, said instructors are helping students develop a career path within the trucking industry that extends far beyond driving the trucks.

“We’re looking at career progressions, starting truck drivers at an entry level all the way up through a variety of different stages and possibly up to management,” Lupul said. “There are all kinds of options available in the industry.”

Industry observers have been keeping a close eye on developments and some have praised Westcan and Lakeland for forming a partnership that appears to benefit everyone involved.

“As chairman of CTHRC I’m really pleased to see this agreement,” said Roy Craigen, who is also president of Transcom. “Lakeland and Westcan should be congratulated for innovation and forward thinking. I really believe this is an industry model for carriers and schools to consider.”

It appears carriers are doing just that.

“Companies have started asking us what we’re doing and it just sort of blossomed,” said Lupul. “The response seems to be very, very good.”

The next goal for Lakeland is to deal with the issue of high insurance premiums for young drivers. Ideally, properly trained drivers would benefit from lower insurance premiums, giving carriers more incentive to hire them and ensure they are properly trained before putting them behind the wheel of a truck.

While Lakeland’s instructors now perform the classroom instruction and will also be involved in in-cab training, Westcan still monitors the training very closely. The program focuses on Westcan’s specific policies and procedures including issues such as fuel management, safety awareness, fatigue management and the transportation of dangerous goods.

The fleet has also developed a five-year training matrix for its drivers to ensure their skills are always current and they are kept up to speed on changing regulations and procedures.

“We have ongoing professional development needs and we will be turning to Lakeland College to help us address these needs,” said Doherty.

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