Rajveer Singh knows who should take the credit for his success in business.
“It was my wife who persuaded me to start this,” Singh, who runs the Smart Truck Training Academy in Mississauga, Ont., said.
The school was established in 2018, about a year after Ontario rolled out the mandatory entry-level training (MELT) program, with the hope of supplying a steady stream of qualified drivers to the trucking industry.
By that time, Singh, 39, already had some experience in the business – he co-owned a truck driving school. He also had been driving trucks for the previous 14 years.
When he immigrated from India in 2003, Singh had no doubt in his mind about his career path.
“Everyone close to me was becoming a truck driver,” he recalled in an interview with Road Today.
“They said, ‘Oh, there is a lot of money (in trucking)’, and I said, ‘Okay, I am going to do the same’. So, I became a truck driver too.”
By the end of 2004, Singh was working for a Quebec fleet. Two years later, his employer asked him to train new drivers, and Singh said that piqued his interest in teaching.
And speaking of teaching, Singh believes the MELT program needs an urgent upgrade.
When the province launched the initiative in 2017, it was the first jurisdiction in North America to do so.
Still, there have been a lot of criticism about the program, with some saying there are so many loopholes.
Singh agrees. For example, he asked why 36 hours are allocated to in-class instruction.
“What do you need them for?”.
Singh also said those who offered driver training at cut-throat rates before the introduction of MELT are continuing to do so.
While reputed schools charge $8,000 on average, the course is available for as low as $3,000 in the Greater Toronto Area, casting a shadow over the program, said Singh.
The problem is, there are too many schools chasing too few MELT dollars.
Singh is, however, hopeful that MELT will be upgraded, and those schools providing substandard training will be taught a lesson.
He also hopes that the government will set a minimum fee of $5,000 for the course to weed out those who are not playing by the rules.
Those worries haven’t affected Singh’s passion for teaching.
“I love it when people get learned, and they smile at me and say, ‘I know how to do it now.’”
“That gives me satisfaction,” Singh said.
He said his students included engineers, doctors, bankers and double-MBA holders.
“I had two students who were bankers. They left banking because there was no future. They wanted to use their skills to start a trucking business,” Singh said.
Off the campus, he spends his time playing basketball, watching movies with family or just chilling out with friends.
Singh’s wife, Shavina Arora, is a professional hair stylist and makeup artist. They live in Brampton with their seven-year-old daughter, Ileana Arora.
By Abdul Latheef