Last blog I touched briefly on a new and different way to look at truck driver recruitment and training. This blog proposes how to structure a graduated training level and skill development.
The first level of skill development is the 12 to 20 days of training at an accredited truck driving school using a recognized syllabus with the student achieving all of the necessary rudimentary skills to acquire the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) although in reality, this 12 to 20 days must be increased to at a very minimum one full 90 day semester.
Before going any farther with this piece I should take the time to outline the various levels of skill development.
First, and lowest paid the “Recruit”, the driver trainee in truck driver training school.
- Border Crossing Methodology, Canada/USA and USA/Mexico;
- Hazardous Material Handling;
- Thorough Daily Inspection of vehicle and recognition when maintenance is required;
- Log Book Preparation;
- Load securement; proper loading techniques; chaining/binding/tarping prevention of load shifting.
- Awareness of reactions of various load types to transport liquid, live animals, paper rolls, refrigerated, etc.
- Proficiency at backing through, in a serpentine manner, at least five cones placed in a straight line each 1.25 truck lengths apart in a given time limit;
- Proficiency backing into a dock at 90 degrees from both directions;
- Proficiency in the operation of the transmission under full load weight conditions;
- Proficiency at forwards around a specified course;
- Proficiency at maneuvering in traffic.
- Proficiency in basic safety and basic operation;
- Proficiency in working through all the gears to highway speed both upshifting and downshifting;
- Proficiency at various weight adjustments for wheel groups;
- Proficiency at trip planning and geography;
- Knowledge of weather related situations; chaining tires, snow, ice, wind, floods, rain, etc.
- Knowledge and skill in air system including air brake systems including brake adjustments as required;
- Knowledge and skill in hydraulic systems both for braking and for hoist/winch operations;
- Knowledge of weights and measures (both metric and Imperial) as applicable to the trucking industry;
- Knowledge of relevant legislation governing the trucking industry in the three North American countries;
- Knowledge of the relevant legislation governing the trucking industry in all the States and Provinces;
- Specific, in depth knowledge of the hours of service legislation in the various jurisdictions;
- Basic health and wellness accompanied by nutritional information;
- Stress management;
- Fatigue awareness and management techniques,
- Security concerns (especially against the threat of terrorism);
- Computer skills training, as required by the industry;
- Communications technology, as required by the industry;
- Life skills training;
- How to properly manage as an absent member of the family etc.
Note: many of the things listed above simply are not taught anywhere but should be.
Second, the “Freshman”, the truck driver training school graduate up to completing the 20,000 miles in the case of the over the road trainee or six months in the case of the local driver trainee of skill development. Where the driver puts the skills learned in the truck driving school to good use under the watchful eye of a master operator to ensure competency and safety. This gives two separate levels of pay for a period of at least nine months under full training.
Third, the “Sophomore”, the truck driver who has completed the 20,000 miles but not yet 250,000 miles (or six months) and is now allowed to go out on his own and practice those things learned during school and the first 20,000 miles. Developing competency and safety.
Fourth, the “Junior”, this is the truck driver who has completed 250,000 miles (or two years) and has passed additional classroom and on the job training courses to advance the skill development.
Fifth, the “Senior”, this is the truck driver who has completed 750,000 miles (or seven years) and has passed successive and additional classroom and on the job training courses to advance the skill development that are all advanced knowledge of all the subjects basically covered as a recruit. During this senior phase, the driver may stream themselves into either becoming Owner Operators or become the trained instructors in a company setting. Many drivers will never go beyond this point voluntarily.
The next levels are equal in competency and skill. The difference is that one stream has chosen to become a little more independent and takes the responsibility of owning and operating his/her vehicle. The other stream allows the highly skilled driver to take on the roll of trainer. This training from Recruit to the point where the Senior may chose to sit still, advance to either owner operator or master must be no shorter than seven years in time or 750,000 miles of over the road experience. By using a time OR mileage yardstick along with certain periodic testing to ensure and document skills development, the local truck driver and the over the road truck driver are then considered one and the same although each brings a different set of skills to the table.
“Owner Operator”, this is the truck driver who has chosen to buy his/her own vehicle and then either contracts for his/her own loads; or, subcontracts with carrier(s). In order to reach this level, he/she must have taken business oriented courses to successfully manage the rigors of owning and operating a business for that is what being an owner operator is.
“The Master”, this is the truck driver who has chosen to stream into the training roll. He/she has mastered the skills of truck driving and as can be shown, truck driving is much more than steering, avoiding collisions and staying out of trouble. It is ONLY a master that accompanies a freshman on his/her first 20,000 miles. It is ONLY a master who can be a trainer at a truck driving school. The Master's skill level demands compensation at the highest level. ONLY people who have achieved the Master's skill level can compete for the government testing positions within the various State and Provincial organizations.
At each level there is a written and a practical test progressively more difficult to determine proficiency to the next level. Each written examination must be multiple choice to eliminate the possibility of personality conflicts with the examiner to enter into the picture. Each practical test must include elements that are either passed or failed based on the observation of a skilled tester. The government must use testers with equivalent or better skills than those they are testing and it is the responsibility of the examinee to ensure the examiner is qualified.
Training must never stop. A day without learning something is a wasted day. The day when someone feels they've learned it all is the day they should get out of the business.
Look for the final blog that will summarize what has been discussed in the previous blogs.