Challenger Motor Freight’s Training Academy Preparing Canadian Truckers for Treacherous Winter Roads

Challenger Motor Freight’s Training Academy Preparing Canadian Truckers for Treacherous Winter Roads

Challenger Motor Freight, one of North America’s leading privately owned logistics and transportation companies, opened its Transportation Training Academy (CTTA) in 2019 with a mandate of taking on, and promoting, the industry’s responsibility for training new truckers and addressing the lingering issue of driver shortages. 

Challenger Freight’s Dan Einwechter, who founded the company in 1975, addressed this responsibility at the Academy’s opening. 

“It’s hard to get drivers to move trucks,” Einwechter said. “We are out of balance right now in terms of supply and demand. We need more drivers because we need to get grocery store shelves stocked, we need to get food on the table and we need to get computers for kids at school and hospital beds for grandma at the hospital.”

Einwechter has advocated for more federal and provincial resources dedicated to training and inspections for the trucking industry. But he reiterated that the industry should take on some of that responsibility.

“We are asking for something, but as an industry, we have to be committed to doing the training ourselves,” Einwechter said. “We have to throw money at it – we can’t just say ‘We want, we need,’ we have to show… and we at Challenger have done it here. We spend a ton on training and we’re prepared to do more.”

The industry is full of new drivers who are being sought out and hired in record numbers as a result of the industry-wide shortage of recruits. As Einwechter points out, their skills and training are essential to the smooth functioning of our economy, of our healthcare system, of our food supplies. As a nation, we can’t afford to skimp or simply cover the basics. We have to take the quality of training programs seriously, beyond the low bar of entry level training accreditations.

Located at Challenger’s headquarters in Cambridge, Ontario, the CTTA provides students with the real life experiences of operating in a fully functional truck yard, giving them time with industry experts, experienced trainers, and current drivers within the Challenger fleet. 

In Canada, the coming winter months will bring huge challenges for truck drivers. They’ll be forced to navigate through extreme weather, including heavy snowfall, ice and freezing temperatures. The terrain is remote and rugged, and the long, isolated stretches of highway will be a mental and physical challenge. But there are lives that depend on the goods they carry – and so on they must go. 

According to Statistics Canada, over 90% of all consumer goods are transported by trucks. Without the kind of essential, high-quality, personalized training that CTTA provides, those goods would be in real peril, and so would our Canadian communities.  

“Without their efforts, the economy would come to a standstill, and countless industries would be unable to function,” says Paul Weatherbie, Communications Manager at Challenger. “They are everyday heroes.” 

The Canadian Trucking Alliance announced that the industry will have a shortage of 55,000 workers at the end of 2023, Truckers News reported. As a result, federal officials have declared the need for more training as worker shortages continue to plague the industry. 

“Truck drivers are essential to our economy and our supply chains,” Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said in a news release. “Our government’s investment in this initiative demonstrates our continued commitment to strengthening our transportation supply chain, will allow us to continue to deliver affordable and timely goods to Canadians and will help build an economy that works for everyone.”

But as Einwechter points out, the needs will never be properly met unless the industry itself takes on the crucial tasks of training. 

When we see a long-haul driver on those winter roads this summer, let’s remember to be thankful for the programs that trained them and that help keep our towns safe and fully stocked.