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Industry wants national driving standard; Call for tuition subsidies
OTTAWA -- After studying how next generation drivers are being prepared for the industry, driver trainers and trucking carriers are calling for enhanced training programs, improved licensing standards, and new policies for distributing training funds. The recommendations follow a Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) initiative, called "Closing the Gap," which involved eight provincial and territorial roundtable meetings, and culminated with a national meeting of industry stakeholders last November. “This is where we can make lasting, positive change to an industry that has not seen it for over two decades,” CTHRC Chairman Roy Craigen said, noting how the trucking industry is facing a growing shortage of skilled workers. “We are now so much further ahead in understanding what the issues are.”
Participants in the process concluded that government training funds should be limited to training programs that meet National Occupational Standards, rather than simply preparing students for road tests. "While road tests help measure basic aptitude behind the wheel, they do little to identify the vocational skills that modern truckers need for successful careers," CTHRC stated in a press release. The group also called for such funds to be offered to “under-employed” workers who want to upgrade their skills to pursue careers in the trucking industry. Most government programs that finance tuition fees are currently limited to candidates on Employment Insurance (EI). A need for tougher licensing standards was also identified, while participants called for a share of the industry’s payroll taxes to be invested directly into training efforts, similar to a funding model that has already been adopted in Quebec. Research by the CTHRC has concluded that the industry needs to replace as many as 3,000 drivers per month because of issues such as an aging workforce. Yukon retailers, for example, already face gaps in their shelves because there is a need for more truckers to deliver the goods, noted Bernie Bell, operations manager of North 60 Petroleum. Work has already begun on developing such standards for entry-level drivers, says CTHRC Executive Director Linda Gauthier. The CTHRC has also been asked to identify the testing and licensing standards used by individual provinces, to help recommend a "pan-Canadian" model that will be presented to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, which includes members from all Canadian governments dealing with the administration, regulation and control of motor vehicle transportation and highway safety. Candidates should also be pre-screened before they begin training programs, participants suggested.
 
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