Seventeen months after introduction, carriers are fleets reporting the benefits of Mandatory Entry level Training in Ontario.
As reported by Truck News, panelists at the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario’s (TTSAO) annual general meeting – who included Geoff Topping, vice-president of human resources at Challenger Motor Freight; Caroline Blais, recruiting manager, Kriska Holdings; Brian Topping, director, safety at Rosedale Group – said the program is raising the bar for the industry.
“What MELT has done for us in the GTA is allowed us now to approach a pool of applicants that we couldn’t consider before,” Blais explained. “Most of you know the GTA was rife with non-registered schools. So, what we’ve noticed here in the GTA, is now, we at Kriska have applicants that we couldn’t pull from before.”
The challenge with the trucking industry, said Blais is the it has a low-barrier to entry.
“Before MELT, if you had $999, you could come right in to the industry and drive for 123456 Inc.,” she said. “But now, thanks to MELT, more companies like ours, can open our doors to new drivers and welcome them into the industry properly, with fair pay and proper training.”
Topping added that it’s comforting to know that other provinces are also considering MELT, and he believes it should be nation-wide.
“For us, it gives us piece of mind that these new drivers have taken a mandated course before they walk through our door.”
At Rosedale, Topping said that newly licensed driver turnover is relatively low, thanks to the nature of the business.
“Once we invest the time in our individuals, they feel some sort of loyalty for what we did,” he said. “There has been some issues, and most issues are not related to training, or hours of work, or anything like that.”
To help combat driver turnover at Challenger, Geoff Topping says he makes sure HR programs are in place so all new hires feel supported and have someone to turn to.
“With all first-year drivers…we make sure we have a lot of extra touch points. We’ve put in a few programs to help us stay in touch with new drivers. One of them is called the Challenger Connection Program. Which involves various people throughout the company go have lunch with the recruits, and each new recruit is assigned a connector. The connector helps to integrate them into the Challenger family. And answer any questions they may have.”
And finally, he added, if you’re thinking about getting into the industry, do your homework.
“Pick a good school, take the maximum amount of training and go for ridealongs with people in the industry,” he advised. “Reach out to the carriers, see if they’ll give you a tour of their facility. Get real-life information from veteran drivers and ask lots of questions. Because at the end of the day, who’s friendlier than the trucking industry?”