In recent months I have made several presentations on Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) and provided updates and information or where we sit in each jurisdiction and where the National Entry Level Training Standard file is at. MELT is a file that is close to my heart, as I believe quality training at an entry, or pre license stage, is imperative to ensure the industry receives a quality entry level driver, with the basic skills required for the job. It is then the job of the carrier and industry to place the new graduate in proper mentoring and post license programs to give the driver and carrier the best chance for a successful, long term rewarding career.
In recent presentations I have noticed a growing frustration from attendees on the state of the MELT program, specifically in Ontario, and a perceived lack of training and or the quality of the training being provided, as well as a lack of mandated post license on the job training. What is understood, is that high quality schools who provide students with MELT as a minimum, who have relationships with quality carriers, and provide students with connections to these carriers who have mentorship and intensive post license training programs, have far better success rates of long term placement and lower turnover rates, and provide a safer driver.
The problem is, to many fly by night schools are still in place. While MELT was meant to rid the industry of these fly by nighters who sell students a bill of goods, promise them a license and successful career for unreasonably cheap rates, these schools have simply found another loophole to go through and continue to exist. To many schools are providing substandard training, not abiding by the rules that exist under MELT, not providing the facilities, equipment, and number of hours required to meet the standard. The fear of being caught is so low, that these schools continue to operate and unleash unsafe, unprepared drivers into an industry that either can’t accept them as a result of their training and quality being so low or must start from scratch with their training. This has led an increasing number of people to declare in comments to me that MELT is a joke. Let me be clear in my views here, I believe MELT is a good program that has the best intentions of everyone involved. MELT was developed through the collaboration of government and industry stakeholders. We can all argue whether the hours of training mandated are enough, and whether the curriculum covers all the topics we think are required, but what can’t be argued is that MELT, and the upcoming NELT, are steps in the right direction. Before MELT, there was no requirement for anyone to take training of any sort before attempting their class 1 license. MELT raised the floor. What however is also clear, is that we still have work to do. We have an inadequate level of oversight in place, we have standards that need to be improved, polices that need to be amended and regulations that need adjusted. The good news is, Industry and government are aware of these issues, and continue to work together to address them. Meetings and communications continue between Industry and government and refining the program and finding better ways to monitor and enforce the regulations that exists are on the table. While the majority of the industry, in my view, always can be counted on to do things right, and follow the regulations, a small but expanding segment will always find ways to bypass the regulations and make knowingly and willingly breaking the rules a business practice. We must continue to be vigilant and expose these bad actors. If you know of a school or carrier that is not playing by the rules, please report them to the MTCU, the MTO, local or Provincial police, or reach out to one of the many industry representative and associations that exist, including this one, and we can ensure that your concerns are forwarded to the proper authorities. We can’t let frustration make us throw our hands up in the air and give up, that is what the noncompliant people in any industry are counting on!!