Mandatory entry level driver training in the Province of Ontario is being pursued as we speak. The Blue Ribbon Task Force launched last year, made up of some of our industry’s finest and the many other industry stakeholders are supporting this initiative. It may be one way to solve the licensing mill syndrome that that has put thousands of poorly educated commercial AZ operators behind the wheel in Ontario, but I am not so sure. I think the training bandits will find a way around the system of mandatory training. Truth and time walk hand in hand so we will see.
Aren’t there some other things we as an industry could be doing to improve the situation? You bet. How about for starters, let’s make it mandatory that those instructors teaching the new commercial drivers are certified. Is it not crazy that all you need to instruct someone is a class AZ license? There are true stories of licensing mills training people how to get their license and turning them into instructors as soon as they graduate. My source? Someone at the Ministry who is in the know. How dangerous is this? Why is this being so overlooked? I am really not sure but if we have a mandatory education program for people who want to instruct in-car and in-class for G license vehicles, surely there should be some sort mandatory education process for those instructing the drivers of the biggest vehicles on our highways, shouldn’t there?
For some of us in the business, we have our own standards that are set. I can tell you at KRTS we have a career path for our instructors. They are professionally educated and certified. Our instructors are very well qualified for what they do and this is very precisely documented in their files. Of course this comes with a price tag and it is one we absorb because we see it as an investment. Unfortunately, the consumer does not always see it when they are shopping for training. Far too often we hear this – How much? How long? When can I get tested? We try our best to educate them on why they want to invest properly in their new career but far too often they purchase cheaper courses because they can and in most cases find employment with a less than reputable carrier.
Here is the rub as I see it; great training by properly educated trainers on good equipment means employment by great carriers who pay the best and offer our clients a long term sustainable career. Win, win – yes. The price tag is much higher of course. In order to keep good instructors you have to compensate them properly, supply benefits, give them good working conditions, and opportunity for advancement, just like other industries. That investment is big, but the return speaks volumes. For us at KRTS it means we currently have a 97% placement rate. It means a 100% first time pass rate for our clients since September of last year. It means carriers who will take our grads ahead of those who run the mills and churn out poorly trained drivers. Most importantly, it fits with our culture, our mission and our values.
Mandatory Entry Level Training, should we go down this road? What is it going to cost us? Is it going to make the training business a commodity? I know one thing for sure, it is going to take some time to figure it out and implement it. Then, of course, the big question is – who is going to police it? Yes, truth and time walk hand in hand.
About the Author
Kim Richardson is a husband, proud dad, friend, loves Caledonia, and is involved in a couple of businesses, KRTS, Transrep, The Rear View Mirror. Currently the Chairman of the Board OTA Allied Trade Division. Executive Director, PTDI and TTSAO. Anyone who knows Kim knows he has been in the industry and transportation runs in his blood. Kim can be reached through his business websites at KRTS Inc, and Transrep Inc, Kim Richardson on Linkedln, firstname.lastname@example.org