WINNIPEG, Man. – Manitobans looking to have Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) cover their tuition for the Entry Level Professional Truck Driver Training Program will soon reach a dead end, as the program will conclude June 30.
Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA) executive director Terry Shaw said that although it is not MPI’s mandate to work with the industry on driver training, the program did endure for 10 years after starting as three year pilot program.
“The fact that we turned a three year pilot program into a decade and hundreds of industry trained entry level commercial truck drivers is something that we’re both pretty proud of,” Shaw said.
The program was developed and funded by MPI and created with input from the MTA and members of the local trucking industry.
Shaw said the termination of the program was bitter-sweet, but at the end of the day, the MTA understood MPI’s position on the matter.
The MTA has been looking at alternative options for a similar program moving forward, including with the Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) program, which could get additional traction given the demise of the MPI program.
“There are still training providers in Manitoba, and there are still funding options in Manitoba for newcomers and employment assistance,” Shaw said. “But nothing that was as open and effective as the MPI program was.”
No other commercial driver training programs, either provincially or federally, is a one-size-fits-all like MPI’s program had been, but would rather depend on each applicant’s individual circumstance.
MPI’s program included four stages, stating with driving school instruction and moving to on-the-job training, on-the-job mentoring, and finally employment. Tuition for the program is approximately $8,400, and training was provided by one of six driver training schools in the province.
Several Manitoba trucking companies also participated in the program, including Arnold Bros. Transport, Big Freight Systems, The TransX Group of Companies, and Bison Transport.
Knowing that the MPI program was originally intended to be a three year pilot, the MTA also looked at working with the education system in the province to pursue a training program.
“We loved our partnership with MPI,” said Shaw, “but at the end of the day, it’s a driver training program and it should be part of the industry training and education system in Manitoba, so we had been championing that for years.”
The MTA met recently with the province’s deputy minister of education and training, Bram Strain, to highlight what the association had been doing to get the ball rolling on a commercial driver training program, and how the issue was now compounded by the fact that the MPI program was coming to an end.
“Now that there’s a real hard and clear line as to when one ends, we’re hoping to have something else on offer,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the June 30 deadline for applications to the Entry Level Professional Truck Driver Training Program is currently in flux, and believes it might be extended.
“Anybody interested in trucking in Manitoba but unsure where they should turn, we encourage them to give us a call and we’ll do what we can to point them in the right direction,” said Shaw.
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