Alberta boosts access to trucking jobs

by Today's Trucking

EDMONTON, Alta. – Alberta has announced two programs to make driver training more affordable and less time consuming, thereby improving access to trucking jobs.

The $3-million Driving Back to Work grant program will cover up to 90% of the cost of the Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) for 300 unemployed Albertans to earn a Class 1 commercial truck driver licence, the government said Thursday.

The Experience and Equivalency Class 1 MELT Training Program will reduce the time it takes for Class 3 drivers to upgrade to a Class 1 licence.

“These changes do not affect the high training and safety standards required by MELT in order to keep Alberta’s roads safe,” the government stressed.

The cost for MELT training for Class 1 drivers is capped at $10,000, but the current average cost across Alberta is $8,900.

After successful completion of the Experience and Equivalency Class 1 MELT Program, all participants will be required to pass the Class 1 MELT knowledge and road tests to obtain their Class 1 commercial driver’s licence.

Unemployed Albertans who qualify for employment insurance and can apply for the grant online, the government said.

Transportation Minister Ric McIver said the programs are designed to put Albertans back to work.

“Farmers, foresters, roughnecks and truckers made it clear that cost is the major barrier to hiring Albertans. Providing better paths to earn a Class 1 licence will help deal with a shortage of truckers, getting our goods to market safely,” he added.

“This grant will ensure that the new transportation workforce is trained by professional road and safety experts…”

– Chris Nash, president Alberta Motor Transport Association

The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) welcomed the initiative, saying it will help put Albertans back to work while ensuring essential supply chains remain resilient.

“This grant will ensure that the new transportation workforce is trained by professional road and safety experts while we continue to address the issue of driver shortages and support Alberta’s economic recovery and diversification,” said AMTA president Chris Nash.

“The Alberta Motor Transport Association will continue to advocate for new ways to meet the demands of a more sophisticated and data-driven global supply chain while ensuring the utmost in safety training.”

The initiative is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a strategy to build, diversify and create tens of thousands of jobs as the province fights Covid-19.

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  • That is not a bad idea but the government will need to monitor driving schools to be sure the training is equal overall. I have had new drivers do a road test as part of them starting driving for us only to find that after taking the MELT program they were not able to shift gears, know where their truck and trailer were in the lane among other issues. It seems to depend which driving school they went to.

  • A move in the right direction.
    My only hope is that the people chosen for this opportunity qualify and are not professional students or people that abuse government subsidies.
    Trucking is a hard and demanding job. We need applicants that are aware of the social, mental, and physical impact of working on the road.
    We need people that are willing to work , respect the industry and the people surrounding it.
    I hope you identify all the pros and more so the cons of this industry before handing out my tax money, and more importantly, tarnishing the industry that I make my living with.

    • Just a heads up, the individuals that have applied and were approved for this grant have also paid their taxes. As soon as your SIN is used for employment, you’re paying taxes.

  • Sounds like a short cut. The MELT program is a fundamental building block to improving the quality of drivers on the roads. Reading between the lines it appears a shorter version of MELT is available to those with a class 3 license? Simply holding a class 3 license doesn’t automatically mean you have any amount of skill or knowledge that will shorten the need for proper training! Provide access to proper funding (combination of a loan and a grant) and ensure everyone takes the full program!

  • I Think this should be open to all Albertans who have an income less than 30k a year.
    To make this only available to people that don’t have the desire to make any income I think is wrong.
    All this is going to do is put people behind the wheel that shouldn’t be. It takes a certain talent to drive these
    trucks not everyone can do it. So is the term true (Dumb truck driver)or (dumb politician)

  • There’s no driver shortage in Alberta. There is a shortage of drivers willing to haul a 70′, 46000 kg unit through various weather, traffic and road conditions for $17/hour. When you factor unpaid wait times, break times, refueling times, overtime, etc. drivers don’t make a living wage.
    Most of us save other drivers from their own ill-advised decisions daily. We aren’t compensated or appreciated for this. But let us get involved in a non-preventable collision and see the feces hit the air oscillator.

  • Why doesn’t the feds make it mandatory for insurance companies to insure new drivers at a reasonable rate thereby allowing more drivers to enter the workforce and lessen the driver shortage caused by them (insurance companies}. Train the drivers all you want but if companies aren’t allowed to hire new drivers until they get 3yrs experience and are at least 25yrs old what’s the point (of training them).

    • For the most part, I do agree with your points except for one thing: I wouldn’t push for anything mandatory, instead there should be an incentive in place for transport companies to hire new drivers. And this incentive can allow transport companies to facilitate their own program to properly train these new drivers, within their own company.

  • This is an awesome program, however the new drivers are not allowed to drive commercial vehicles unless they have 2 years experience. Insurance companies makes it very difficult. We need to address this issue. No point getting a class 1 driver’s license spend $8-10K and wait two years to be able to drive.

  • when I was hiring new people, fresh out of driving school, 10 years ago we had lots of applicants. However, they wanted long term jobs and must be home for supper every night, Only Alberta. please. I didn’t hire too many as the add read for long haul divers, not city P and D.

  • Hi, am under EI since April/01 2019 till date. i wanted to Train for class one .I was a Truck Driver for the last five years. And really am very much interested in my Driving upgrade.
    So i could be very grateful to get grant to pursuit my career.

  • For a Industry magazine that champions everything trucking, for the sake of safety; your research on training has been shallow at best and you have never done a deep dive into provincial schools across the Country. The MELT program is a copycat of EYW from back in the 2000’s. This so called new training is fraught with problems and poorly regulated. The people on the training side and the government administrators in my opinion are woefully short on real time and past experience within the Industry. Some of the Instructors I’ve met over the years were a laugh, and the administrators even more so. If you folks think that in some degree this MELT program is a way of preventing or reducing another Humboldt tragedy your sadly misinformed. As I keep following things here in Alberta and other Provinces the cost and the guidelines are being watered down again, and the issue of class 8 tractors with A/T has surfaced again.

  • Am really interested in joining the Training for the class under Ei and has class 5.Therefore l could be grateful if Iam considered for the grants to have my Training.Thank you.

  • As someone of whom has applied for this grant and was approved for it, completed all of the necessary training, passed all of the knowledge tests (including the road test), and is now a Class 1 Licence holder, with “Q” endorsement, I am still unemployed. Of course, that was all completed and finalized on March 1st, 2021, but there is no job placement, and a majority of transport companies are less inclined to hire new drivers.

    With that, and as appreciative as I am for this grant to be able to complete not only something that I’ve always wanted to do, but also because there was no way I could afford this out of my own pocket, the whole purpose of this program is to get Albertans back to work. Unfortunately, this grant and program are only half of the conundrum that’s been solved. Instead of actually filling the void, there’s now more trained Albertans still collecting EI instead of working.