“More than 2,000 Truck Drivers work on PEI, but the need for more Drivers is beyond desperate,” says Brian Oulton, Executive Director, PEI Trucking Sector Council.
As a response to the pressing need for more Truck Drivers, the PEI Trucking Sector Council is facilitating a training program called One Journey.
The program began several years ago in Nova Scotia, PEI Trucking Sector Council worked with the counterparts in Nova Scotia to bring the program to PEI.
Nova Scotia administers the current PEI pilot program, and takes care of screening, interviewing, and the online application process, and also receives weekly updates about each participant.
“Our first three participants have done really well,” says Brian. “The second group started at the end of January, and another training session may be held in the future. Down the road, we see good potential to target specific groups like youth, women, mature workers or Indigenous people.”
Participants take eight weeks of training with JVI on PEI, followed by four weeks of coaching with an employer.
The program covers 100 percent of training costs, a $300 allowance to pay for safety gear, and pays a stipend to those not on EI.
“We ask each applicant about their commitments,” says Brian. “If they need to be home every night, we recommend they speak to employers who offer local work. Those interested in long-haul driving can meet with employers that offer that type of work.
“We screen applicants hard. They can have no driving or medical issues and no criminal record. Their essential skills are assessed and must be strong. They also need a letter of intent from an employer, and must go through an interview process.”
Those who fit the criteria will be accepted into the program only after they meet with an employer who agrees to hire them after the training is completed. “The advantage of this program is that the employers get to know the participants, and get weekly updates during the training period.
“The program will produce more highly qualified drivers who have been thoroughly screened, trained, and coached. It allows everyone to keep an eye on the participants’ progress in their training. If someone is struggling, companies will come in and help build their skills.”
Chad Dawson was the first person to enter the One Journey program. He was working as a Delivery Driver in Charlottetown, and was looking for a change to a higher paying position. “Chad was the ideal candidate because he has a young family which makes it difficult to quit a job to take the training,” says Brian Oulton of PEI Trucking Sector Council. “He already had similar truck driving experience, was working below his skill level, and just needed more training. With his new job, he will be earning more money, and will probably have a better work/life balance.”
Chad says it was a big decision to quit his job and go into the unknown. “I didn’t know if I could learn it, if I would like it, or what kind of lifestyle it would be. The program covers 100 percent of the costs of training, which is like winning the lottery! It is a good opportunity to learn a trade instead of being stuck in low-paying jobs.
“The training was good, and it was challenging. During the eight weeks with JVI, there was airbrake testing and road testing, and I had to study different aspects of the mechanics of the truck.
“There was a lot more to it than I thought. Driving a big truck is not like driving a car. My biggest struggle at first was to learn so much information and learn to drive a standard transmission.”
“The first couple of weeks I felt a bit overwhelmed, but you have to be patient. My advice is to take one day at a time.”
Chad finished the coaching component on January 17, and by the following Tuesday took his first solo trip to Dartmouth. The next evening, he took a load of carrots to the Sobeys Distribution Centre in Nova Scotia. “There are lots of opportunities for drivers. You just need to be willing to work and put in your time, and something will come your way.”
Funded in whole or in part though the Canada/PEI Labour Market Agreements.