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AMTA’s Training and Tech Campus Will Drive Alberta Forward

The precarity of our supply chains was one of the unsettling realities revealed by the pandemic. All it took was a strain on a single link to cause shortages throughout the system. In some cases, it was an annoying inconvenience. In other cases, it was much more serious, including shortages of baby formula, computer chips and the contrast dye used for X-rays, ultrasounds, CT and MRI scans.  

Following this worrying wake-up call, governments across Canada began scrambling to strengthen the country’s supply chains. The federal government recently announced a special supply chain office that will be responsible for developing and implementing a national strategy. Closer to home, the provincial government is investing more than $8 billion in the Ministry of Transportation and Economic Corridors’ three-year capital plan, which includes significant funding for highway and bridge projects.  

Nearly 52 per cent of Alberta’s GDP moves on the back of a truck, so strengthening the ribbons of asphalt, steel and concrete that form our transportation is critical. However, the province is short 4,000 professional drivers and that number is rising monthly with retirements. If we don’t get more Albertans behind the wheel soon, our economic recovery is going to slow. 

The Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) has been raising the alarm for years. Not just content in pointing out the problem, the AMTA is developing solutions. The association has been working to change the industry’s culture and image so it can attract a new, young and diverse workforce. It’s also raising awareness about careers in the industry across the province at job fairs, where students are encouraged to try their hand at trucking at the wheel of a simulator.  

Initiatives such as these, however, are just the beginning. The AMTA has developed plans for a commercial trucking safety and technology testing campus in Beaumont. The immediate goal of the campus would be to educate and train more drivers so the industry can start filling vacancies. The facility will include a state-of-the-art track that will test a driver’s skill in varying conditions, including gravel roads and city driving, to ensure they are up to the demanding task.   In the long-term, the AMTA wants to use the campus to position Alberta as a destination to develop, test and implement new technologies, including hydrogen-powered vehicles.   

Utilizing a multi-functional design, the campus can also meet other needs in the province, including law enforcement. Rising crime rates have fuelled growing concerns about public safety across the province and the province has responded with a proposal to create a new independent agency police service that will operate seamlessly alongside local police.   

Whether it’s getting more truckers on the road to keep our supply chains flowing, enhancing Alberta’s tech ecosystem or training more police officers to crack down on crime, this innovative project will help drive Alberta forward. The AMTA recently hired a new president, Robert Harper, to navigate a way forward for the association and the campus. Alberta’s trucking industry is in good hands.