Ontario developing apprenticeship for truck drivers

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Ontario’s McGuinty government is helping the trucking industry meet its need for skilled workers and improving road safety by creating an apprenticeship for truck drivers.

“In today’s economy, prosperity depends upon having a skilled work force,” says Chris Bentley, minister of training, colleges and universities. “Truck driving is one of the most common occupations in Canada. This new apprenticeship will improve driver education, support the trucking industry’s commitment to training and the growth of the sector, and build a pool of skilled drivers.”

The voluntary program was developed in conjunction with the industry and other interested groups. It will train apprentice tractor-trailer commercial drivers to plan trips and inspect equipment, safely handle cargo, conduct routine vehicle checks and prepare documentation, including bills of lading, border crossing security and custom forms. Training will be voluntary and available for people who want to become apprentice drivers starting early in 2006.

“For the first time, the government has recognized that a truck driver is a skilled professional, not an unskilled worker,” says David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association. “This is a big step forward for the trucking industry.”

“This new training program will help address the shortage of experienced, qualified drivers in an industry that is vital to Ontario’s economy,” says Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar. “Every year Ontario’s highways carry almost $1.2 trillion worth of goods.”

Ontario has Canada’s largest apprenticeship training system with more than 140 trades. The Ontario government has introduced the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit to encourage more employers to train apprentices. Apprenticeship training will be a key feature of Ontario’s new One-Stop Training and Employment System, a seamless and co-ordinated training network.

“The McGuinty government intends to increase the number of new apprentice registrations by 7,000 to a total of 26,000 annually in 2007-08,” says Bentley.