Home Truck News Alberta's new Class 1 training: More in-cab training hours, Red Seal certification...

Alberta’s new Class 1 training: More in-cab training hours, Red Seal certification – Truck News

As of next year, Class 1 drivers in Alberta will see 103.5 hours of mandatory training as a part of the new made-in-Alberta learning pathway that will be introduced with the goal of making truck driving a Red Seal certified job three years from now. This will make Alberta the first province to officially recognize truck driving as a skilled trade.

The current mandatory entry level training program (MELT) requires 113 hours of training, which includes 57 hours of in-cab training.

“While the new learning program will reduce barriers to Class 1 licensing, it will also require more hours of in-vehicle training than the current MELT system, and opportunities for ongoing competency training will continue throughout a driver’s career, increasing safety,” said Jesse Furber, press secretary of Alberta’s Transportation and Economic Corridors Ministry, in an email to TruckNews.com.

Devin Dreeshen making the announcement
Devin Dreeshen announced new learning pathway for drivers will be introduced next year (Screenshot: Alberta Ministry of Transportation and Economic Corridors)

Amid the shortage of truckers in Alberta, only 31% of 149,000 certified Class 1 licence holders are employed as truck drivers.

In response, the province worked with stakeholders to understand industry needs and identify the barriers stopping drivers from joining the industry and staying in it, said Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s Minister of transportation and economic corridors, during last week’s press conference.

Cookie-cutter approach proved ineffective

This led to the re-evaluation of the current MELT program which provides “some” training, but does not go far enough, Dreeshen said.

“It was structured in a way that did not meet the industry’s need.”

This is why the government is making changes to Class 1 driver training and licensing in favor of a new, learning pathway for professional drivers.

“A cookie-cutter-based pre-licensing approach to adult learning simply does not work,” said Dreeshen, adding that the new apprenticeship style model will also provide the opportunity for prospective new drivers to learn about the profession without having to pay a $10,000 fee to do so.

New training

The changes are focused on developing driver competency throughout a driver’s career while ensuring road safety, said Furber.

Drivers will proceed through five phases while training as a Class 1 driver: exploration, apprentice driver, interprovincial driver, advanced driver, and Red Seal certified phase.

Truckers will receive a restricted licence in Phase 2, which will require them to complete approximately 50 hours of training, in addition to air brake training.

The interprovincial Phase 3 will require drivers to receive at least 53.5 more hours of training. After that, truck drivers will receive a full Class 1 licence.

According to Furber, Phases 1 to 3 of the new pathway will be in effect by March 1, 2025. Phases 4 and 5 are estimated to be implemented by 2026 and 2027 respectively.

Truck stop
(Photo: iStock)

In its 2024 budget, the province designated $41 million for the new learning pathway support and the development of a grant program to support Class 1 drivers for on-the-job competency training. Of that, $5 million will be allocated in 2024-2025, and $18 million will be invested annually from 2025 to 2027.

AMTA welcomes the changes

Robert Harper, the president of Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) said during the press conference that the new program is a major step forward for the transportation industry. He also thanked the government for treating the commercial driver shortage seriously. 

“A new made-in-Alberta learning pathway will help train more drivers while securing safety on the province’s highways,” he said.

“Getting the right people with the right training behind the wheel is critical to the province’s commercial transportation industry and economy because nearly 52% of Alberta’s GDP moves on the back of a truck.”

Enhancing training, safety oversight

In addition the training changes, Minister Dreeshen announced last Wednesday the province is contracting 26 more commercial examiners who will be deployed throughout the province starting April 5.

Alberta is also enhancing the monitoring and oversight of driver schools, instructors and examiners that ensure the instruction and examination of commercial drivers are aligned with the curriculum.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misreported the number of required training hours. TruckNews.com regrets the error. The story was corrected on April 4, 2024.

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