AFRIT Group recently joined leading transport sector brand SCANIA Trucks in lending its support to an industry training initiative – the Commercial Professional Driver (CPD) Academy, established on the outskirts of Heidelberg in 2017 by one of AFRIT’s clients, Reinhardt Transport Group (Pty) Ltd.

AFRIT and Reinhardt Transport Group has had a long standing relationship stretching over more than a decade. The first batch of trailers ordered was in February 2008 and the numbers have since grown steadily on an annual basis.

The Afrit Group contributed towards this World-class commercial driver education centre to assist with the needed infrastructure requirements and also through Phuma Finance extended preferential financing terms for the CPD training fleet.

“We have operated in the Southern African transport sector for over four decades, and are happy to be involved in worthwhile initiatives that will benefit our clients and our industry,” says Andre van de Wetering, chief executive officer of the AFRIT Group. “The CPD Academy aims to introduce a new class of commercial driver to our roads – drivers who will be assets to the industry, with the requisite skills to look after commercial vehicles and their cargo, and navigate their routes safely and efficiently.”

The CPD Academy’s first intake of students began their TETA-accredited internship in August 2017. Every two weeks a new intake of five drivers enrols in the first of four internship phases.

In summary, these phases comprise:
  • Phase One: Two months, 360 hours of NQF Level Three training – theory, yard and practical training.
  • Phase Two: Eight weeks, 22-25,000 kilometres/540 hours of practical driving experience (accompanied, constantly evaluated)
  • Phase Three: Eight months, minimum of 128,000 kilometres/2,550 hours of practical driving experience (solo, with guidance if required)
  • Phase Four: Employment by participating transport companies, or placement by labour brokers MC Labour with other transport companies.

The interns hail from the communities in the geographical areas that Reinhardt Transport serves. Once word of the CPD Academy got out, there was a steady stream of applicants. These first undergo interviews and psychometric testing, to ensure that they are suited to the internship, and importantly to a career as a commercial driver, which comes with a lot of responsibility, long hours, and time away from family and home.

Qualifying students receive a bursary including a daily stipend for the first phase. Thus, when they begin their year-long internship, they are already embarking on a career path, that will see them progressing their skills.

Director of the CPD Academy, Rodney Houston-McMillan, says that their aim is to provide the transport market with the best qualified drivers available, and to position CPD as the most reputable ultra-heavy vehicle driving centre in the country. The on-the-job training that commences in Phase Two, provides drivers with invaluable experience in the driving seat – gained over many hours and kilometres driven on Southern African roads. Drivers capture all of their trips in a logbook, which over the years becomes proof of their experience, and a valuable record to give future employers.

“At CPD we are setting the qualification benchmark higher than any other current training provider in South Africa,” says Houston-McMillan. “The structure of our programme was developed following consultation with transport companies, as well as the financing and insurance providers to the industry, who all have their own checklists and experience requirements to consider.”

In addition to bringing the best drivers into the industry and providing refresher training to those already in the industry, the CPD training model is raising the level of employable, skilled South Africans within the transport sector. “Being a professional commercial driver is not an easy career. It is however an honourable one, that is not just about navigating the route –  it’s about managing a 100-ton of metal, steel and cargo, from start to finish, and doing so safely, confidently and with due care,” concludes Houston-McMillan.

The Academy’s premises in Heidelberg include offices, classrooms (with state-of-the-art audio-visual teaching technology), workshops for practical sessions, a large yard for introductory training, and a canteen. At the end of a full year cycle, the Academy expects to have qualified at least 150 previously disadvantaged South Africans, as professional commercial drivers.

“The CPD training concept and facility is one that I am sure will garner support from other industry stakeholders, particularly as it produces graduates and matures,” says van de Wetering. “We are looking forward to a continued association and seeing them excel in their endeavour,”