SURREY, B.C. — Long-haul trucking firm Coastal Pacific Xpress (CPX) has graduated the first three pupils of its new Professional Driver Apprenticeship Program, created to bring young new drivers into the business and address the current shortage of drivers.
David Tracey, 21; Harbir “Randy” Dhaliwal, 24; and Janet Lembke, 19; all completed the program combining for more than 85,000 miles of on-the-road training. CPX says the youth of the new graduates is encouraging, given that the average age of a Canadian truck driver is 50.
“We have not poached them from elsewhere,” noted Glen Parsons, partner and vice-president of marketing at CPX. “The industry has gained these drivers, and because we’re very selective about the participants we accept into the program, we know they represent the best of the best.”
Drivers who have obtained their Class 1 licence and have graduated from an accredited driving school can apply for CPX’s PDAP program.
Once accepted into the program the students log thousands of miles with a seasoned CPX trucker at their side to gain valuable road experience. The apprentice always drives with an experienced CPX driver, and is paid 15 to 18 cents per mile logged, depending on the phase he or she is in and the driver-trainer receives a premium to his or her salary for taking the apprentice on the road.
The program lasts between two and six months, depending on the apprentice’s ability to learn. At the end of the program, graduates will have averaged up to 30,000 miles of road time.
All three graduates are B.C. residents and have realized the value of the apprenticeship program. Tracey spent three months in the program and noted most companies require drivers to have two years of driving experience before they’ll be hired.
“But few new grads have that,” he said. “CPX’s program gives us the actual on-the-road experience and then hires us.”
“We are very proud of these young people because we believe they will bring excellent standards to our company and industry,” said Jim Mickey, partner and general manager at CPX. “As the workforce ages and more and more people retire, it’s critical to infuse the industry with excellent young drivers such as these grads.”
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