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Alberta’s professional driver training program revived

RED DEER, Alta. -- An eleventh hour deal has been reached to expand Alberta's professional driver training program ...

RED DEER, Alta. — An eleventh hour deal has been reached to expand Alberta’s professional driver training program with Red Deer College to include a Class 1 component.

Late last year, the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) reported it was concerned the Professional Driver Certificate pilot program could be in jeopardy “as the result of not being able to include a Class 1 licence as part of the training and the length of the course in Alberta’s present hot economy.”

The association and Red Deer College, the school that administers the program, appealed to the province to expand the program to include a Class 1 licence component and to also speed up the overall training process to make it more appealing to students.

Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Training, responded recently, confirming “Advanced Education and Technology has completed its review of Red Deer College’s request to include Class 1 training, and change the hours and length of the existing Professional Driver certificate pilot program. We are pleased to provide approval for this change effective January 1, 2008.”

That’s good news for the industry, according to an update posted by AMTA on its Web site.

“Thanks to Minister Doug Horner and Alberta Advanced Education, we now have a professional driver training program that meets the needs of driver training students and the transportation industry,” the association said.

Deputy Minister, Dr. R. J. Fessenden confirmed Jan. 21 that thanks to the program’s expansion, students will now be eligible for Employment Insurance funding, similar to an apprenticeship program. And now carriers can utilize reduced class time to provide company-specific training and mentoring.

The carrier now can produce a qualified driver after 12 weeks instead of 20 and the student does not have to go without EI compensation a win, win.

“This is a major step forward for the Professional Driver Certificate program but it is now up to the transportation industry to come forward with support and involvement,” the AMTA said in a release to members. “Carriers and training schools need to encourage drivers to enroll and carriers need to provide mentoring opportunities with their companies. Together, we can make this pilot program work and make the PDC program an Alberta Transportation Industry success! The result will be more qualified drivers, which was the goal from the beginning.”

Dennis McCarty, program chair at Red Deer College is the contact for carriers. He can be reached at 403-356-4861.

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