Thompson Rivers University currently has eight participants registered in its new log truck driver training course based in Williams Lake.
Betty Turatus, TRU North’s community co-ordinator, says the students are in varying stages of their training.
Some are in Phase 1 while a few are in Phase 2 and one student is in Phase 3.
The log truck driving program is funded through the Labour Market Agreement.
The funding is shared between Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses.
Turatus says the Williams Lake/100 Mile House area has a total intake of 16 participants at a time.
Potential students must first meet with Turatus to determine if they are eligible for the program under the Labour Market Agreement criteria.
To be eligible the participant can not be currently receiving employment insurance and must not have received EI within the last three years.
“The second step is to attend a panel interview,” Turatus says. “This interview is conducted as a job interview as essentially the end goal of the program is to produce trained log truck drivers for the local industry.”
Once participants have been accepted into the program they will go through a three-phase program.
Phase 1 is the classroom portion of the program where students receive their air brake training and a few other safety courses such as Level 1 first aid.
Students also learn to keep a log book and what to do in emergency cases such as a fuel leak.
Phase 2 is taking the Class 1 truck driver training and certification.
In Williams Lake this portion of the program is taught by Jim Henderson, owner and instructor with Safety First Driving School.
“I am the only truck driving school in Williams Lake so I appreciate TRU keeping it local,” Henderson says.
“It’s a great program. Betty has organized it very well.”
Henderson has been driving a truck for more than 20 years and has been a Class 1 instructor providing training for taxi drivers, ambulance drivers and large semi-trucks for the past four years.
“I have taught well over 100 students and they are all doing very well,” Henderson says.
Phase 3 is the log truck mentorship portion of the program.
“The mentorship component is what makes this program unique,” Turatus says.
“The participants spend approximately 160 hours in a logging truck with experienced drivers learning and gathering experience.
“In the end it is a win-win as the participant receives experience and the companies/mentors will have much needed drivers.”
“It’s a great program and it’s success is dependent on the support we are receiving from Tolko and West Fraser, and especially the local contractors who are willing to be mentors such as Bruce Combs, San Jose Logging, J. Russell Trucking, and Eldorado just to name a few.”
Terry Duncan, one of the students who is currently in Phase 2 of the program, says he worked in the bush all his life as a skidder operator and needed a change in occupation that wasn’t as hard on his back.
He’s also happy that the training is offered here in Williams Lake close to his home.
“It is an excellent program and something that is needed.”