Since its founding in 1997, CHET has grown to become one of Ontario’s most reputable commercial driving training schools. 2017 marks CHET’s 20th year in operation – and there is much to celebrate. Let’s take a closer look at how CHET has evolved over the past two decades to meet the evolving needs of drivers and prepare them for safe and rewarding careers behind the wheel.
Commercial Heavy Equipment Training, also known as CHET, was founded on October 6th, 1997 by President and Owner Andy Balij, who immigrated to Canada from Poland in the 1980s. Upon completing his AZ license, he found it challenging to find employment with a reputable carrier. He encountered a frustrating “Catch 22” in the industry: carriers typically hire drivers with 1 to 3 years of driving experience, making it extremely difficult for new graduates without experience to secure a job with a respected carrier. An inexperienced new graduate at the time, Balij was only able to start his driving career operating a DZ straight truck delivering bread.
With great vision and hard work, he eventually went on to incorporate The Musket Transport Ltd. That same year, Balij established CHET – an in house driving academy –to help bridge the gap for new drivers restricted by the “Catch 22” that made it difficult for him to get started as a young driver. Living up to its motto “We train, we employ!” many of CHET’s graduates are offered employment with CHET’s parent company, Musket Transport. This unique arrangement which allows students to enjoy a seamless transition into the workforce upon graduation is at the core of Balij’s vision.
What Sets CHET Apart
Unlike the plethora of unregulated big-truck ‘licensing mills’ that churn out poorly prepared drivers, CHET is a Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) mandated program that offers quality high-level driver’s training. CHET is also a Private Career College, Truck Training Schools Association (TTSAO) Member, and Private Motor Truck Council of Canada member. The CHET program boasts a combination of classroom education and hands-on in-truck training delivery 1 on 1 by certified instructors. Becoming more than just AZ road test-ready, CHET drivers learn such skills as map reading, trip planning, understanding basic mechanical issues, transportation of dangerous goods, and much more. After drivers successfully complete the CHET program, they are issued a certificate equivalent to two to three years of driving experience, leading to greater hirability and higher salaries.
Recognized as Ontario’s premier driver training academy in Ontario, CHET is amongst the first schools in Mississauga to be compliant with the Ministry of Transportation’s Mandatory Entry Level Driver Training (MELT) draft training standards. CHET has become known for its:
- Ongoing commitment to adhering to the highest level of truck driver training.
- Learning-to-earning model which allows students a smooth transition into secure employment with a reputable carrier. 95+% of students are hired by CHET’s parent company, The Musket Transport! 66 CHET graduates were hired by Musket in 2016, and 34 have been hired in 2017 so far.
- Stellar record with government agencies and municipalities.
- Caring, experienced, knowledgeable and committed staff that go the extra mile with each student.
- Dedication to connecting all graduates with jobs (CHET has several employers partners!).
- High-level accredited curriculum, with 32.5 hours in the classroom, 21 hours with computer modules, 18 hours off road, 12 hours of backing, 6 hours of coupling, and 32 hours in the cab with a qualified instructor.
- State-of-the-art VS600M simulator that prepares students for the countless occurrences which can transpire behind the wheel of a straight truck or tractor-trailer under varying conditions.
- And so much more.
Operations Manager Philip Fletcher explains that “CHET is committed to providing drivers with high quality training and a positive learning experience. Feedback and constructive criticism are welcome by our instructors who are constantly searching for ways to engage students and improve upon the curriculum.” CHET has continued to evolve and expand its curriculum. Its close relationship with The Musket Transport gives instructors access to cutting edge industry knowledge. Ties with Musket also enable students to train with newer equipment in a real CTPAT bonded yard. The fact that our students are trained in the same environment they will work in, provides a deeper level of knowledge and understanding. “Musket offers tremendous resources to CHET so that they may offer the highest level of service to students,” says Anthony Dyal, Fleet Resources Manager.
Adapting to New Realities
Over 20 years in business has provided CHET with the opportunity to observe many industry challenges, but also detect changes and advances that are creating greater opportunities for commercial truck drivers and safer roads for all. These include:
Tremendous technological advances. Technology and innovation has completely transformed our industry from the automation of vehicles to ELDs. The role of drivers is changing and will continue to evolve with technological innovation. CHET embraces the new technologies and incorporates them into its dynamic curriculum. Students have access to computer training modules, allowing them to complete a portion of their studies conveniently from home. They can also access course updates, test results and other information at the click of a button through CHET’s new, easy-to-navigate Student Portal. CHET has integrated multimedia via the in-house production of engaging instructional videos and infographics. A key component of CHET’s program is its cutting edge simulator which gives drivers in training the ability to practice navigating challenging real-life scenarios before graduation. Instructors are also preparing to incorporate Musket’s ELD pilots into its training curriculum.
A Driver Shortage. With the aging baby boomer generation approaching retirement and a large number of veteran drivers on commercial trucking fleets, there is a growing driver shortage. The Conference Board of Canada predicts a shortage of 25,000+ drivers by 2020. Still, however, the transportation industry is relatively dominated by the baby boomer generation. In fact, the 2011 Statistics Canada National Household Survey indicates that the average age of a truck driver is 47.1. The same survey also shows that the 25-34 years-old cohort represents less than 15% of truck drivers – a drop of 3% since 2006 (18% in 2006, 15% in 2011).
While some fleets have put forward some ambitious initiatives to try and recruit more millennials, the outlook for the next 10 years remains grim. With retirements expected to increase, other occupations will also face shortages in the coming years. This situation needs to be addressed. CHET has responded to this plight in a variety of ways. It has created custom materials in a multimedia format which showcase youth in the industry. It maintains a “no-actor” policy for its promotional materials; instead, real students, graduates and employees volunteer to participate in our video testimonials and instructional videos. To further accommodate and attract young new drivers, CHET has built a Student Portal that allows students to complete certain modules online from a remote location. The Portal centralizes the majority of CHET’s resources, tests, PowerPoints, grading and videos for greater convenience.
The driver shortage makes the transportation industry an attractive choice for individuals searching for a career that offers steady, lucrative employment and opportunity for advancement. As more and more drivers retire, more and more jobs open up, creating abundant opportunity for skilled young drivers to fill their seats. When successful CHET graduates find employment with The Musket Transport Ltd. or another carrier, the rewards can be great. The average truck driver can earn between $60,000 and $65,000 annually, while top tractor-trailer drivers can expect to earn $80,000+ each year. The Musket Transport Ltd. offers competitive benefits and bonuses that further reward employees for their commitment to excellence behind the wheel.
Women in Transportation. Freight transportation has always been a male-dominated industry, but change is on the horizon. Slowly but surely, women are learning that there are lucrative career opportunities as drivers, technicians, mechanics and more. Contrary to popular belief, these roles are largely gender neutral. Brute strength isn’t integral to safely driving and maintaining a truck or transport trailer. Women already play a role in the industry, but statistics show that there is plenty of room for growth. Merely 3 percent of truck drivers are women. Similarly, just 3 percent of mechanics, cargo workers and transport trailer technicians are women. These numbers may be small, but encouragingly they are slowly growing. This is especially true as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement and the demand for drivers increases.
Women have already forayed into various other industry roles, from dispatchers and managerial staff to parts technicians and safety and loss prevention specialists. Their growing presence in these roles reflects a workplace that is increasingly female friendly. Many industry leaders are making a pointed effort to attract more women to the industry. CHET, and its parent company Musket Transport Ltd., are committed to exploring ways to attract women who may be well suited to various careers in transportation. That’s why CHET sent representatives to attend the educational and inspiring Women with Drive Leadership Summit on March 3rd, 2017.
Other noteworthy changes the industry has faced include more government support for career opportunities, an increase in regulations and greater expectations for driver skills and safety. Many new changes are still on the horizon, with the advancement of vehicle automation, mobile aps, cameras, simulators and ELDs. CHET will continue to strive to be at the forefront, continually evolving, adapting and improving its curriculum to provide drivers with the best quality training. Collaborations with the TTSAO and other community partners serve to further the quality of CHET’s curriculum, clinics and facility. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the CHET team is proud of what it has accomplished and looks forward to paving the road ahead.
Are you a CHET graduate? We’d love to hear how CHET played a role in your journey to a career behind the wheel. To share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org