One afternoon in 2012 around a boardroom table the idea of CPD Academy (then known as a training centre) germinated. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the challenges encountered with older drivers that could not pass the required psychometric assessments for vacant driver positions as well as the lack of suitable qualified or experienced younger drivers.
One argument was that the assessments was unfair towards the older drivers who were intimidated due to a lack of computer literacy. The Counter argument was that the driver still required the necessary skills to be a safe driver, no matter their age.
A potential employer would receive hundreds of applications for drivers. However, when the date when a drivers license have been obtained, driving skills, criminal record, medical assessments and psychometric evaluations were taken into account, only 10% of these applicants were successful. The conclusion reached was that a process to train the older drivers as well as those drivers without the necessary experience was crucial.
Various options were investigated and numerous role players within the transport industry were interviewed to determine their requirements, this included the insurance industry as well as banking sectors. At this stage, we realised that there were more hurdles to navigate than what we initially thought. The transport companies that we interviewed had an exhausting list of requirements for new drivers. In short, they required a driver older than 25 years, a license older than 3 years, and they required that the driver had at least 3 years driving experience on their particular brand of truck (Scania, Volvo, Freightliner or MAN). The insurance houses that we approached also had their own checklist that we needed to consider.
We conducted an experiment to determine what was required to obtain a Code 14 license from a local driving school. Within 5 hours our experimental candidate was able to obtain his license, 4 hours learning how to reverse and change gears and the last hour the on-the-road driving assessment. During this training, he was not taught how to use the retarders on the truck, or when to pull onto a weigh-bridge. According to the current traffic law he was now fit to safely drive a fully loaded code 14 truck down Van Reenen’s Pass on the N3, without any experience.
It was at this stage that we realised that we have identified an urgent need for better trained drivers.
After we combined all the information that we received we started working on a business plan. Ready and eager to start the training centre (still without a name) as quickly as possible. Somebody mentioned to us that we need to investigate the idea of training the learners on a simulator as that would be “amazing”. We looked at local as well as international simulators. Eventually we narrowed it down to a couple of simulators that we had to assess abroad as we could not find anything in South Africa that met our requirements.
In 2014, we traveled to India as well as Dubai to investigate these state of the art simulators. After spending hours on these simulators looking at the functionality and practicality it could just not meet the standards we demanded. We also realised that logistically training on a simulator would not be an effective training method in the transport industry as it would impede on the companies’ operations.
Transport companies also face the challenge that drivers refuse to undergo the Professional Driver Qualification (NQF level 3), recommended by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), once employed. The reason being that they lose a lot of benefits during the training period which impacts on their income. The obvious solution to this was pre-employment training.
After reviewing all the challenges and the need for better trained drivers we started developing our business model. We identified everything that we would like to achieve through the training centre and what it would entail to reach these goals. It was at this stage that we decided on a name for the “training centre”: Commercial Professional Driver Academy
We would set out to train commercial drivers that would be professional in all aspects in order to provide the market with safer drivers. And you might ask why change from training centre to academy? Well, we aim to set the benchmark for future training of commercial drivers in South Africa, thus Commercial Professional Driver Academy (CPD Academy)