Long thought of as a rough and gritty industry, the truck trade has become a high-tech sector every bit as advanced as that of Kanata's Silicon Valley North. A modern rig, it's often been pointed out, has enough information technology on board to embarrass the massive computers that guided Apollo 11 to the moon and back.
Truck Manufacturers Freightliner, Volvo and Mack have partnered with Centennial to bring their product-specific technician training to the college's well-equipped labs
No question, trucks are getting more complicated. There are electronic diesel fuel systems, automated transmissions and anti-lock brakes that are unlike anything found in your father's old Mack. Add to this escalating technology the new regulatory environment -- rising safety and environmental standards -- and it all adds up to a challenging time for truck technicians.
For the first time, heavy-duty truck repair is the focus of a new Journeyperson Updating program at Centennial College in Scarborough.
The updating program provides older skilled workers with opportunities to keep pace with change in their industry.
A secondary benefit is that it makes them better teachers for apprentices in the workplace. Centennial's nine courses are designed for certified truck and coach technicians already working in the field.
"The more up-to-date you are, the better able you are to ply your trade," says Linda Neil, who looks after the updating program at Centennial. "Employers are usually very supportive of workers who go back to college to gain new skills."
Because technicians expect to maintain their income while learning, Centennial is offering its courses two nights per week, typically 7 to 10 p.m. (some run during the day on Saturdays). There are courses in diesel engine technology, air conditioning, heavy-duty transmissions, engine emissions, brakes and electrical systems.
To be eligible, applicants must have a Certified Technician or Registered Apprentice designation, or equivalent, as approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Each course is priced between $116 and $205. The Ontario government subsidizes the tuition fee.
"The Ministry is supportive of apprenticeships and skilled trades," Neil says. "They recognize the value of updating the skilled trades to keep the Ontario economy competitive."
With technology rapidly changing the nature of work these days, skills updating has become a mantra embraced by virtually every employer. And for good reason: a highly skilled workforce is one of the best economic benefits a province can offer to industry, especially in a global economy that invites cross-border competition.
Technology training centre
Centennial College is a fitting location for the Journeyperson Updating program. Its Ashtonbee Campus is Canada's largest transportation technology training centre, with more than 250,000 sq. ft. of classroom and lab space devoted to cars, trucks and aircraft technology.
It is estimated that one-half of Ontario's licenced technicians have studied at Centennial's School of Transportation at one time or another. And the school is well known to the industry, too. Freightliner, Volvo Truck and Mack all have product-specific labs on campus, where students can work on the latest brand-name technology.
With technological change ongoing, it's an exciting time to be in the trucking trade. Make the most of your career by updating your skills, so that you're better equipped for the change that's yet to come.
Call 416-289-5000, ext. 7105, or visit www.centennialcollege.ca
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