Alberta introduces ‘apprenticeship-style model’ for Class 1 drivers

There will soon be a new way for Albertans to become commercial truck drivers.

The Government of Alberta says it is improving Class 1 licensing and training with a new, made-in-Alberta learning pathway.

Described as an “apprenticeship-style model,” it aims to offer an opportunity for Albertans to develop the skills needed to succeed and advance in their careers as professional drivers.

Starting in March 2025, applicants will work towards obtaining a Red Seal designation and the recognition as a professional trade while getting on-the-job training in the same vehicle they would be using every day throughout their career.

Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen says the industry broadly supported the continuation of Class 1 pre-license training, but the government is following through on their recommendations for tiered or restricted Class 1 driver’s licenses, more appropriate training for certain industries, increased in-cab training hours, and an expanded scope of training.

“This is a proactive approach to ensure truck drivers in Alberta have the right training with the right vehicle to perform their jobs professionally and safely. This new learning pathway provides more appropriate training for drivers and ensures Alberta’s truck drivers are the best-trained in the country,” says Dreeshen.

The new learning pathway also aims to meet the unique needs of farmers by exempting them and their immediate families from the requirement for pre-license training and providing a farm-restricted Class 1 driver’s license. It would allow them to operate Class 1 vehicles only within Alberta and only for authorized farm purposes.

Alberta Beef Producers Chair Brodie Haugan was pleased to see the province provide this exemption.

“The farmer Class 1 licence exemption is a positive first step to alleviate the trucking shortages impacting farms and ranches. Alberta Beef Producers is looking forward to working with the government and stakeholders on future steps in transportation to ensure a healthy agricultural supply chain for Albertans,” says Haugan.

There are more than 149,000 licensed Class 1 drivers in Alberta, but only 31 per cent of them are employed as truck drivers.

Statistics Canada has reported that there were 4,260 commercial truck driver vacancies in Alberta as of the third quarter of 2023.

More details are available on the Government of Alberta website.