Program change piques student interest

RED DEER, Alta. — With new changes in place, Alberta’s pioneering Professional Driver Certificate program is finding interest where it needs it most, with prospective student.

Just six months into the pilot project, the PDC program was having trouble drumming up interest among prospective students. In January however, the provincial government gave permission to the program’s administrators to make the necessary changes to keep the pilot project in operation.

With the government’s consent, the PDC began including Class 1 driver training as part of the program, instead of a being a pre-requisite.

“We’ve had a great response. It’s been extremely positive,” said Ric Bolton, chair of the PDC Program, in an interview with the Red Deer Advocate. “It’s kind of turned the program around.”

Bolton noted about 50 students have shown interest in the next intake and if most follow through the 40-seat program will be at capacity. Those are the enrollment numbers that evaded the program during its first six months in existence.

The program launched in June 2007 as a post-Class 1 training course and is based on the Canadian Trucking Human Resource Council’s (CTHRC) Earning Your Wheels program. The two-year pilot project is being administered by Red Deer College and is offered at four truck driver training schools spread out across the province in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer.

Being primarily funded by the provincial government, students in the program are faced with a small tuition price tag of $3,500 for the entire course. However keeping the government satisfied will be key to ensuring funding for the program continues.

Recently at the Alberta Motor Transport Association management conference in Banff, Alta. Transport Minister Luke Ouellette hailed the program as groundbreaking and essential to the industry, but warned the members if it was not supported funding would not be continued past the original two-year pilot timeline.

— with files from the Red Deer Advocate

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