– Thousands of South African Code 14 truck drivers now have access to invaluable skills development, advanced driving courses, and employability enhancement opportunities, thanks to a new driver development centre, Innovative Learning Solutions, which opened recently in Boksburg, Gauteng.
Conservative estimates value South Africa’s logistics sector at around R480 billion, with road freight by far the biggest industry within the sector. At any given time, there are thousands of trucks of every shape and size on South Africa’s roads, transporting a full spectrum of essential goods required to keep store shelves stocked, lights on, and businesses running.
Of course, these vehicles don’t drive themselves. That requires the expert skills of a truck driver. But according to Arnoux Maré, founder and CEO of Innovative Solutions Group and Innovative Staffing Solutions which employs and outsources over 7 500 truck drivers – until recently, the full value of South Africa’s thousands of truck drivers has been largely overlooked, as have their skills and career development needs.
“Covid-19 changed all that, as a large part of the responsibility for keeping the country’s economy ticking over during the national lockdown fell squarely on the shoulders of these drivers,” he explains, “and consumers and businesses increasingly recognised that without skilled, committed truck drivers, much of the commerce in South Africa would probably grind to a halt.”
Maré emphasises that while recognition for a job well done is one thing, effective training and support is entirely another. And opportunities for truck drivers to access the skills development they need have been lacking in South Africa. Until now, that is.
“Innovative Learning Solutions (ILS) was established to give truck drivers and their employers easy and affordable access to the training, development and the career support they deserve,” he explains, “and in the process, make these drivers, and our roads, safer while adding tangible value to the companies that employ them and, hopefully, fund their course attendance at ILS.”
According to Maré, ILS is currently the largest Code 14 truck driver training facility of its type in Africa. No small feat, when you consider that the facility only officially opened its doors in June 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, with SA’s national lockdown still placing massive restrictions on businesses and freight transport providers across the country. Since then, more than 8 000 drivers have enrolled for one or more of the courses offered by ILS, and Maré says demand for the ILS courses is growing monthly.
“Over the past year, businesses have really come to appreciate the value that fit, well-trained and reliable truck drivers can add to their organisations, whether they have their own fleets, or use the services of a logistics provider,” he says, “and ILS has designed a full range of intensive, practical, TETA-certified learning experiences for these drivers, that dramatically improve their abilities, while giving their employers the peace of mind that their staff and freight are safe.”
The comprehensive range of services and courses offered by ILS is built on international best practices, and all have been meticulously designed to help code 14 drivers of all experience levels to significantly improve their skills. Courses range from beginner, intermediate and advanced truck driving techniques, to Truck Driver Verification, Authentication, Competency Certification (D-VACC). In addition, the centre provides employers with pre-recruitment assessments like full medical exams, background and criminal checks, polygraph tests, and validation of licenses and prior driver training.
But Maré explains that it’s not just currently employed drivers that ILS benefits. The courses also offer those seeking employment a significant competitive advantage. “While driver employers are our largest client grouping, we are finding that more and more independent or unemployed code 14 drivers are self-funding their course attendance as well,” Maré says, “because they recognise that having a training certificate from ILS is one of the best ways of maximising their chances of finding employment in this tough economy.”
“Given the massive contribution that truck drivers make to businesses and to South Africa’s GDP, and the immense responsibilities that they have to carry, simply doing their job every day, it is essential that they receive the training, development and support they deserve to equip them for excellence,” Maré concludes, “and by being the premier provider of these reliable and trusted driver support and training services, Innovative Learning Solutions is proud to be adding value to companies that rely on road transport, while helping to transform South Africa’s road freight industry into the safe, efficient, well-oiled logistics value contributor it can, and should, be.”