As a journalist, its rather unprofessional to sing the praises of that on which one is reporting – objectivity should rule. However, objectively speaking, the Reinhardt Group’s CPD Academy deserves A LOT of praise.
Regular readers may recall the cover story of Issue 5 last year (Magic at the fork in the road), which introduced an innovative take on driver training – the Commercial Professional Driver Academy (CPDA) created by the Reinhardt Group.
News of this initiative made it out to be quite promising. However, by the time I had conducted my interviews, toured the facility and written my story, I was truly blown away by what had been created – and the calibre of drivers it was creating.
I must admit, though, that it was only when I attend the graduation ceremony of the first batch of drivers that I truly understood the importance of what Rodney Houston-McMillan, Yolandi van Niekerk, Natasha van Niekerk and the rest of CPDA team have created. Nineteen drivers completed the four-phase, year-long, TETA-accredited, salaried programme – covering a total of 11-million kilometres and achieving stellar results in the process.
The programme was tough for each and every one of them (some candidates from this group dropped out along the way), but speaking to some of the graduates after the event was humbling…
“CPD has given me a life,” beamed Hendrik Thulo, who has now been employed by TransMac. “I got sick on the road and almost quit, but management was supportive. What CPD has done is good. I’m running out of words to explain how happy I am.”
Mkhululi Mazula, now at Chrome Carriers, commented: “I used to drive only small trucks and I knew nothing about these big trucks, but I saw this as an opportunity. It was a challenge, but a good challenge.”
Amos Motaung, now at TransMac, said that it was a long, but worthwhile, journey. “I was so scared the first time I arrived here. I thought the process would be simple, but I can see now that everything we learnt was useful. It means a lot to have graduated here and I wish for other drivers to achieve what I have achieved.”
Representing the TETA, Wheatus Matugane made a poignant point when he addressed the graduates: “We have a lot of drivers in South Africa, but a shortage of professional drivers. You must no longer call yourselves truck drivers; you must call yourselves professional drivers. That sets you apart from the mainstream.”
This is exactly what Houston-McMillan and the CPD team aimed to achieve.
“When we started the academy, our intention was to rewrite the purpose of professional drivers in South Africa. The aim is for them to be the best; to be proud to be truck drivers. The people who sit here today belong here because of their attitude towards their work. We can see the difference the academy has made – the other drivers in our fleets can’t keep up with these guys; they kick ass!” Houston-McMillan commented proudly.
And rightly so; three years of planning to get the academy set up and hundreds of drivers entering each year have meant that the Academy has proved popular and is producing results.
The intake has recently been upped to ten drivers every two weeks while the number of trucks has increased from 15 to 18.
Hats off to the CPDA team and the dedicated learners who stick it out though the programme. May it keep going from strength to strength and set the standard for truck-driver education and training in the country.