ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With the increasing Internet visibility and harmonization of regulations across borders, the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) is expanding its reach in Canada and beyond as it continues to receive international requests.
For Louise Philbin, education director and founder of 5th Wheel Training Institute in Haileybury, Ontario, which recently received PTDI course recertification at its two sites, that’s good news.
The rural, northern Ontario school received its initial course certification in 2000.
“At the time, PTDI certainly was a visionary idea in Canada,” said Philbin. “Today, I see PTDI certification as even more relevant for us as a Canadian school with the increasing competition, the changes in regulations and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which means there’s a lot more harmonization of standards between the two countries. Our students are prepared to cross over the border and drive in the states, because our program covers all the U.S. requirements and regulations.”
Philbin added that over the years, PTDI has become more attractive in that students recognize its importance through Internet exposure.
“In years past, there was a lot of lip service to the standards, but now there’s an awareness that the higher standards are very important to students, to the trucking industry, to funders, and even to insurance companies, so now it’s become value-added for us to follow the same international standards,” Philbin said.
Al Gurka, site manager of Schuylkill Technology Center, in Pottsville, Pa., who also has offered PTDI-certified courses since 2000 and which were recently recertified, said, “The PTDI website is a great tool for us. Prospective students can check the Web to see what kind of training they will receive. We’re a small school in Pennsylvania, so somebody who never heard of us can check the PTDI website, and it presents us with good credentials. And carriers absolutely check the PTDI website. They send us prospective students based on the fact that we have PTDI certification.”
Internet exposure has definitely broadened PTDI’s reach, PTDI officials said. Certification coordinator Marlene Dakita said that the institute has received inquiries and/or applications from educators not only in Canada and the U.S., but in Egypt, Guam, Guatemala, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
The institute has even had interest from a contractor working with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Plus, Dakita said she regularly receives inquiries through PTDI’s website site from prospective students looking for information on schools with a PTDI-certified course.
“We continue to get recertified because the PTDI certification gives us national and international recognition that some small schools don’t get,” Gurka said. “And we know that if our students move to Canada, they would be recognized there as well.”
The current list of all schools with PTDI-certified courses can be found at www.ptdi.org.
PTDI is a national, nonprofit organization established for the twofold purpose of developing uniform industry skill, curriculum, and certification standards for entry-level truck driver training and motor carrier driver finishing programs, and certifying entry-level truck driver training courses at public and private schools and driver finishing programs at carriers for compliance with PTDI standards.
PTDI is based in Alexandria, Va.
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