THUNDER BAY, ON – Over the past several years, across Canada and especially in Northwestern Ontario there have been shortages in truck drivers. This issue has been raised at the Northwestern Ontario Immigration Forum for several years.
The Ontario government’s plans to increase the number of people choosing to work in high demand careers in the North, including trucking and personal support workers (PSWs). The efforts being made through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) expansion could open the door for more individuals to take interest in the careers, but the key to any candidate’s success will be the right education. For several years, Confederation College has endeavoured to help address the growing employment gap in both of these fields across the region through innovative programming and specialty training.
“We have had the Personal Support Worker program in place for many years, but have really tried to think outside the box in the last several, in order to encourage more people to consider the educational opportunity and career,” said Shane Strickland, Dean of the School of Health, Negahneewin and Community Services. “We offer the program at all of our nine campuses and through distance education. In recent years, we’ve introduced an accelerated option, partnered with industry across the region to promote the career option, and launched the innovative ‘living classrooms’ approach at some of our regional campuses. As a community college, we want to make sure we’re doing our part to help ensure there are enough qualified people out there doing this important job in our communities.”
The Living Classroom Strickland references is an innovative delivery model that through industry partnerships, enables students to study on-site at long-term and other health care facilities in an inter-professional, interactive learning environment. They are immediately able to apply the theory they learn in the classroom by practicing their skills in the healthcare setting and may be provided with the opportunity to gain meaningful part-time employment when not fulfilling program requirements.
As recent coverage indicates, supply also can’t keep up with the need for Truck Drivers, with “the Trucking Alliance of Canada indicating that the industry will be short 30,000 drivers five years from now.” A newer program in Confederation College’s Workforce Development division is designed to help minimize that gap.
Jason Ozbolt, Manager of Training Initiatives is pleased that Confederation College is a part of the solution with the delivery of the AZ Truck Driver MELT (Mandatory Entry-Level Training) program. “We know that learners who complete this program will be well prepared for a career as a transport driver and benefit from the industry’s competitive incomes,” said Ozbolt. “With a significant focus on safety, health, prevention and accountability, learners will be ready to take on the operation of heavy trucks to transport goods and material across urban, provincial and international routes.”
The program meets and exceeds all mandatory objectives set forth by the Ministry of Transportation’s Commercial Truck Driver Training Standard that was released in July of 2017. It has been offered through Confederation’s Thunder Bay and Rainy River District campuses and the College is looking at expanding the program to other communities in Northwestern Ontario.
For more information about these programs, visit: