Challenger Motor Freight’s Academy Among Industry-Led Initiatives in Driver TrainingBy David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
The transportation and logistics industry is one of many trade fields suffering from a lack of workers. In Canada in particular, the industry currently reports a shortage of 55,000 workers. The federal government has taken notice, stepping in to declare the need for more training to help supply and shore up the vital trucking industry.
As a society, we learned the importance of essential workers like truck drivers during the pandemic, when crucial food and health supplies were dependent on their willingness to potentially sacrifice their health in service to their country's needs. This dependency is a big reason why the governments in both the U.S. and Canada are raising the flag about a shortage of qualified workers.
If you're hoping to start out in any trade, it's wise to make a list of the industry leaders and determine if any of the companies have set up their own training programs. For the trucking industry, especially in Canada, that company would be Challenger Motor Freight. The Ontario freighter started their Transportation Training Academy to address the driver shortage head on, offering students a chance to learn the ins and outs of the industry in an operating environment.
Challenger's Academy (CTTA) is located at the company's headquarters in Cambridge, ON. It's designed to give students a taste of a fully functional truck yard, allowing time with experts in the industry, well-qualified instructors as well as invaluable lessons from current drivers within Challenger's fleet.
Located at Challenger's headquarters in Cambridge, ON, the CTTA provides students with the real life experiences of operating in a fully functional truck yard, giving them time with industry experts, experienced trainers, and current drivers within the Challenger fleet.
Their process starts with an assessment of every driver, leading to a curriculum targeting their needed skills. The CTTA has demonstrated an impressive commitment to thorough training, leading them to a number 1 ranking for programs in Canada.
There are lots of other program options and schools for driver training, most of them designed to meet the requirements of the Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) criteria. Many are offered by community colleges, and many others by private companies or training schools. The programs are typically around three months long and consist of a minimum of 103.5 hours of training, with additional hours for airbrakes and other more complicated areas.
While most of the programs will suffice for a start to a driving career, many of the schools are blatantly corrupt, offering poor quality training and essentially scamming their students out of high fees. There are horror stories of students becoming instructors two weeks later. In Ontario, shady programs are set up to target new immigrants or foreign nationals hoping to start a truck driving career in Canada.
It's an easy choice to avoid these types of programs. The best way to learn a trade is to learn it straight from the practitioners, and that's what Challenger's Academy offers.
The truck driving industry is a completely different animal than it was just twenty years ago, with each truck essentially becoming a high-tech computer on wheels. Advanced training is essential for the trade, and the public perception has not quite caught up with that reality. For too many people, truck driving is lumped into the same category as retail workers or other unskilled labour classes.
But professional drivers learn a unique skillset to safely operate a large vehicle, and this requires extensive training, testing and licensing. It requires becoming fully up to speed with all the brand new technological innovations impacting the industry and changing the cabs of their trucks. It requires the soft skills of problem solving, calm communication with vendors, and stress management on the road.
Because of this, the choice of a training program is an important part of becoming a qualified worker in the industry. Challenger Motor Freight is to be commended for helping to ensure that their industry is stocked with drivers who are fully prepared for the road.