EDMONTON, Alta. – Two years after launching its Class 1 driver training program, Women Building Futures (WBF) marked the occasion with a celebration this past October.
Several alumni attended the event, including April Naugle, who graduated in March last year.
“I’ve gone from dreaming about being a truck driver to maneuvering a big truck around the city, transporting all kinds of freight,” said Naugle. “Plus, I get to be home every night and off on weekends.”
Naugle is now a driver for Rosenau Transport, and is one of 37 graduates of the WBF professional driver programs since September of 2017.
The age of those who successfully complete the program ranges from 24 to 54, with 90% of graduates who have kept in touch with WBF working in the transportation industry. WBF says the average increase in the income of graduates is 114%. Pre-program income for the four graduating classes was $11/hr, while upon landing initial employment after completing the course, that number increased to $23.58/hr.
Helena Nieuwendyk was another alumni who attended the ceremony. She said a trainer once told her to remember that everything in your life came from a truck, whether it be the materials needed to build your home, your vehicle, or the roads we drive on.
“It’s an extremely important job we do, and it makes me feel proud to be of service,” said Nieuwendyk.
Georgina Daub, who was a graduate from the first WBF Class 1 driver training program in 2017, drives for Westcan Bulk Transport, and also attended the celebration. Daub attended a WBF’s information session for her daughter, never expecting to register into the Class 1 program herself.
“I thrive on being productive, so this attitude has always helped me be successful in whatever work I choose,” said Daub. “And I get to drive a really big truck.”
Daub was one of a handful of graduates Truck News-West spoke to following the completion of WBF’s first program. At the time, Daub had experience driving a bus and was always drawn to the industry.
“I enjoy to drive, I like big vehicles, I like the challenge of those vehicles, so it was just a matter of time to get the opportunity to move into it,” she told Truck News-West in 2017. ““I need to make a living, I need to make retirement, and I want to enjoy doing it. I’m not happy just going and doing one job over and over, going to an office and looking at the same walls. That isn’t something that would fit who I am.”
Megan Bates, manager of industry relations with WBF, said much of the success of the Class 1 driver training program comes from strong partnerships that have been forged since 2016.
“The program and partnerships have successfully kept the needle moving on diversity and inclusion within the transportation industry,” said Bates. “We have learned from both the successes and the challenges along the way.”
For its driver training program, WBF partners with the Alberta Motor Transport Association, along with carriers Westcan, Rosenau, Caron Transportation Systems, Trimac Transportation, and Watt and Stewart.
“Together we have kept an eye to continuous improvement, not only within the training program but also with onboarding and training new drivers once they start their new careers,” said Bates. “Because we have had consistent employer partners, each graduating cohort is welcomed to their new companies by the alumni who have come before them, giving great opportunity for support and mentorship.”
The program is also supported by WBF’s training partner Gennaro Transport Training, as well as Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, which hosts a scale visit during the Class 1 training course.
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
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