Musket launches female A/Z driver scholarship

Musket Transport is covering the cost of an A/Z training program for a woman interested in choosing commercial driving as a career. The annual scholarship at the company’s private career college CHET (Commercial Heavy Equipment Training) is aimed at recruiting more women into the transportation industry. “Musket and CHET have made significant strides with female representation in other roles in transportation and logistics and it was time to turn our attention back to commercial drivers,” says Sophia Sniegowski Begidzhanov, corporate communications officer of Musket Transport. “It’s our aim that this annual scholarship will help attract more women to a career on the road by covering the training fee.”

Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, speaks during the launch of the Musket Transport funded female A/Z scholarship program. (Photo: Submitted)

It was the next natural step for the company in terms of recruiting and encouraging a gender-balanced workforce in trucking. “If we want more women in transportation, it has to start at the training level,” Sniegowski Begidzhanov says.

CHET’s 200-hour program gives students more one-on-one time in the truck with instructors, and as each student is different, it focuses on their individual needs. Classroom and practical training are included. The hands-on training takes place in the yard and road, using a tractor-trailer.

State-of-the-art simulator training is also provided. Students are trained in vehicle components and systems, basic driving techniques, professional habits, tractor-trailer off-road tasks and maneuvers, vehicle inspection, documentation, hours of service compliance, cargo securement and handling emergencies. “Once a student has graduated from the program and passed the ministry road test, we also assist in job placement,” Sniegowski Begidzhanov says.

The graduate will also be given an opportunity to take the Musket road test. The company currently employs five women who work as longhaul drivers. Former driver Brandi H. has successfully set up her own business.

During the recent launch of the scholarship, Shelley Uvanile-Hesch, CEO of Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC) said, “You are going into a career, not a job. There will be changes to your lifestyle that affect your family. If you need family time, take it, but communicate to your company … let them know you have priorities.

Women in our industry have to stick together, be a support mechanism to each other.” Dana Allard, a former WTFC scholarship winner said at the launch, “This is a life-changing decision. The pay is great, I don’t worry about money any more and I am self-sufficient.

I can drive a manual transmission and shocked my boss that I could move manual trucks around when not all the guys could do it.” Women interested in applying for the scholarship must answer the essay question, “Why are you seeking a career as a commercial truck driver?” CHET operations manager Philip Fletcher will consult with Uvanile-Hesch in reviewing applicants and their essay answers to determine the winning candidate. We will do our best to match other female candidates with other funding options, Sniegowski Begidzhanov said.

“I think we will continue to see more women enter the industry in driver roles as well as careers in transportation and logistics,” Sniegowski Begidzhanov says. “Since the pandemic has had a huge impact on women, dubbed as a ‘shesession’ or ‘shedemic’, I believe there is an opportunity for many to re-enter the workforce with essential services such as trucking.”