“Employers who are hesitant to hire new drivers because of the added expense (of two drivers in the vehicle: a student and a teacher), this allows us to send a student to them when they graduate with all of the tickets and we can pay for them to work with that company for the three week (practicum). It saves the company money and allows the company to take a chance on someone new without paying the expense,” said MacDonald. Graduates leave with all the workforce tickets required to work in the field, including a Class 1 driver’s license, Alberta air brakes (Q Endorsement), H2S Alive, First Aid training, cargo securement, WHMIS, ODA (ENFORM’s Oilfield Driver Awareness), confined space awareness, ground disturbance, fall protection, petroleum safety training (ENFORM), detection and control, and hours of service and fatigue management. GPRC currently offers a similar program for about $8,500 to $10,000 per student, but with the Wheels to Workforce program this fee is waived. The school will cover all expenses related to the program except for living expenses. MacDonald is unsure if the federal government will fund the program again next year. The college claims there are a lot of vacancies in the trucking industry, citing 97 job postings on Indeed.com last week alone. “Knowing that there are higher unemployment rates in Canada right now, it was up to us as an institution, when we looked at the grant, and decide what the community needs. We spent a fair bit of time talking to the community and looking on job boards (for what positions employers were hiring for) that’s going to keep local people here in Grande Prairie.
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