Living in a world with COVID-19 is much different from the world just a few weeks ago. However, some things haven’t changed, and the need for well-trained, professional Class 1 drivers is one. Furthermore, as we have seen in the past few weeks, not only is there still a need for drivers, but there is also a greater appreciation for what drivers do and the vital role they play in our economy.
While these numbers are based on pre-pandemic data, they are still important numbers to share: the trucking industry, especially our driving population, consists of an aging workforce with an average driver age of 55 years old. Only 15% of the trucking industry’s workforce is under 30 years of age. In 2019, the province estimated a shortage of 4100 drivers in Manitoba by 2025. In short, there’s a real need for drivers, and there will continue to be one for years to come.
What resources are available for those interested?
In Manitoba, there are two training options available: MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training, a 121.5 hour program) or the Driver Training Funding program, a 244 hour pre-employment program with tuition costs covered for eligible applicants.
How Do I Become an Eligible Applicant?
Individuals who receive a conditional offer of employment from a trucking company and a letter of acceptance from an accredited Class 1 truck driver training school (contact the MTA for a current list of schools) may be eligible to receive up to 100% tuition funding for their truck driver training. Other financial supports will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis depending on individual need, but may include living allowances and other incidental costs.
What Does Training Look Like These Days?
The driver training schools in this program take the health and safety of their students and instructors seriously. Some temporary accommodations have been made in order to reduce the instructor:student ratio to 1:1, eliminating observation time in order to improve physical distancing capabilities. As Class 1 driver training schools are not considered to be open to the public, the two-metre physical distancing requirement does not apply; however, schools have been advised to consider implement safety protocols, such as cohorting students, regularly cleaning common touch areas with alcohol-based wipes, encouraging the wearing of non-medical masks while inside the training vehicle, and of course, washing hands frequently using proper hand-washing techniques.
How Do I Get Started?
As so many offices are currently closed or have modified schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, call ahead to book appointments for any meetings, whether in-person, via conference call, or by phone. The first place to call is Industry, Training & Employment Services – 204-945-0575 (in Winnipeg) or 1-866-332-5077 (toll free) in order to get your application started.
If you have any questions about this program, please contact Danielle at the MTA office, either by phone (204-632-6600) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).