BRANDON— Helping students get into the cab to join the trucking industry, the Professional Transport Driving Training School has a dedicated team of instructors helping to safely grow Canada's fleet of truck drivers.
Professional Transport Driving Training School manager Mark Dech said the team sees a wide range of demographics study to become truckers from young millennials, to older students and farmers who have been operating heavy machinery for years. Together the instructors work to ensure all students know how to operate a truck safely and make a career out of riding on the road.
The program, which is eligible for government funding, spans six weeks and sees students spend 80 hours in the classroom for two weeks and then four weeks in the cab training.
"That is just to get them the license. They are not professional truck drivers when they come out of the course by any means. It’s an entry-level course but it does give them a good foothold into the industry," Dech said. "We give the basics on what they need to know."
Instructors strive to ensure students know what to do behind the wheel, how to distinguish when something is wrong on the road, troubleshoot any issues that arise and everything in between. The ultimate goal is to provide a deep dive into the essentials of the industry.
The MPI test itself is basic for students, Dech said, and this is why a focus is placed on what students need to know to stay safe on the road.
"There’s a lot of things that are in this industry that people don’t realize until they get into a class and all this stuff is brought to them in the classroom," Dech said.
Instructors will cover the rules and regulations of the road, air brakes, pre-trip preparations, hours of service, and anything else students need to know about the industry. On the classroom side, this includes slides and videos before a student is able to get in the truck with an instructor.
Dech explained the purpose is to promote what trucking looks like as a job, while understanding what motivates a student to get in the cab.
He added a medical examination is completed prior to entering the course or writing the MPI road test to ensure it is safe for someone to drive a truck. The medical examination will need to be completed every five years.
Dech has been in the industry for 42 years. It is a good living, that allows truckers to build the job around their needs.
The industry has served him well, he said, and he has worked as a driver, mechanic, dispatch, route building and management. There are many avenues of the industry to explore, he explained, it is not just a matter of being a truck driver once completing the course.
Professional Transport Driving Training School instructors feel a heavy responsibility in helping new truckers get out on the roads safely.
The Brandon facility boasts a total of six instructors— All ready to pass on wisdom and crack jokes to put students at ease. The instructors are certified, have completed stringent testing and spent multiple hours on the road in a rig before taking on their roles at the school.
Instructor Ryan Kyle joined the Professional Transport Driving Training School as a way to give back to the industry. Kyle completed the program prior to becoming a trucker.
"Some people come from the farming background, they’ve been driving equipment their whole life … Others come absolutely green as grass," Kyle said.
The school serves as a chance to keep driving in an industry he loves while allowing him to pass on his knowledge and experience to those looking to enter the industry.
"If the student puts the effort in … If that student gives us 100 per cent there is not one of us who won’t give 150 per cent to get them there," Kyle said.
His purpose each day is to get students comfortable behind the wheel. Around day four of the in-cab instruction, he has students out on the gravel with a trailer so they can get a feel for operating the rig. As the students' skills progress they will head into the city to take on more challenging experiences.
As instructors, the main goal is imparting the importance of safety.
"If we can prevent one guy from ever having something like that [Humboldt] ever happen again then every one of us here did a good job," Kyle said. "That’s what we’re here for."
Kyle is passionate about the job and takes teaching his student seriously.
"I want to see guys leave here and get the same opportunities that this school gave me 30 years ago," Kyle said.
He takes great pride in seeing the students he has mentored find success in the industry.
"When you go to MPI for a test, there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a guy step down from that truck that three-and-a-half-weeks prior he didn’t know the difference between the throttle and the clutch and he comes running across that parking lot at you with tears running down his cheeks [because he passed]," Kyle said. "You’re waiting for that rush of seeing somebody so happy because … We may have just changed their life forever."
Apprentice instructor Harry Cosic is the "freshman" of the group. Professional Transport Driving Training has been like family since the team took him under their wings, he said.
Cosic had always planned on being a trucker when he first came to Canada in 2013. His first contact in the country was his Class 1 instructor in Winnipeg. He had a vision at the time that one day he would like to pay it forward and become an instructor for others.
Serving as an instructor has been a rewarding job and he enjoys seeing the progress students make each ride. It has been a great experience working with Professional Transport Driving Training School and Cosic is proud of the work the team accomplishes each day.
"I did my time on the road for seven years here in Canada long haul," Cosic said. "I have a passion for this job still. I love every minute of it. I like helping guys and put a smile on their face."
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