Driving 797 haul trucks

Discussion in 'Reality Check' started by Liz, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Rickjames

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    Hey there Fam Jam, haven't heard from anyone on here anymore... What's going on? Are we still on board with this haul truck stuff or what?! On a better note I got my class one 4 months ago or so ;-D How is the job market out west right now?
     
  2. NewMove

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    Really glad I found this thread after researching this thing for a long time. A big thank you to all the posters who have voiced their experiences.

    I actually visited up there at the school and the city and would have taken the training hoping for a new career. The information that's here really puts it in perspective. I have seen a similar thread that says the same things as what's been posted here: you have a very slim chance of getting a permanent job.

    And even if you jump through the hoops: the cost of living in F.M. that's going to take away a lot of your after-tax @ $34+ dollars per hour (figure $25000/year just for a decent standalone place to live. Otherwise expect jerks and assorted riggers and schmucks stomping around all night above your basement room). The shift schedules are not for older people either (I've done similar schedules and they wear you out, believe me).

    With the oil downturn, this course is not happening for me. Too much upfront money and no guarantee of anything afterwards. And with automated trucks on the way to try and salvage what's left in a $45/bbl market... well you can see what's coming.

    I'm thinking of other cheaper, but longer term options. There is no free lunch in the patch.

    And if anyone knows how the power engineers are doing I would really love to hear about that because that was my other option.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  3. GO 4TRANSIT

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    So at what point does the college decide to pull the plug on this program or at least suspend training until conditions improve...??
    Students will spend $7000-$10,000 on this 4 week program and walk out with no hope of employment. I'm not bashing Keyano College or its' instructors but remember a college is a business out to make money as much as it is a training institution.
    Prospective students need to do a lot of research and thought before signing on the dotted line.........
     
  4. TAINCA

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    Is anyone still here. I am accepted into the Nov 23rd class along with another guy that I know. We are now both reconsidering due the price of oil and the rumors that we will never get a job or even a co-op for a long time. Can anyone advise of the current state of haul truck jobs in the oilsands or if we should wait until next year when the price of oil hopefully increases.

    It is an expensive course that can pay dividends in the long term but we won't waste our time or money if there is no remote chance of getting a job or a co-op placement for a few years. any advice appreciated.

    All the service companies are starting to do rounds of layoffs again, at least in the Red Deer area.

    I see that the first fall class finishes on Sept 25th. Is there anyone from that class on this forum and can you advise if your class was full and what you are hearing about jobs and co-op placements.

    Thanks in advance.

    Hope to hear from someone...anyone. Bueller....Bueller.
     
  5. billybob

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    My company hired 120 equipment operators in the past 3 months with another 100 or so planned for spring. Not sure how many green truck drivers we hired took the Keyano or COTR course though.
     
  6. TAINCA

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    Thanks for your quick reply Billybob. That is reassuring news. I also read your post #296 from Aug 9, 2014 where you mentioned that taking the Keyano course should give us a leg up on the competition.

    We both have a few years driving Class 1 in the oilpatch, on the service side, so we are a little less green than others that may be applying.

    We have done our homework, been accepted and will start with the November 23rd class. We still have 8 weeks to cancel so we are looking to get as much info as possible, from as many people as possible, related to the oilsands and working for the big players in Fort Mac.

    Obviously hoping to get a 3 month co-op after course is completed for seat time but this economy is all doom and gloom.

    We also have a friend that did the Keyano course, then a 3 month co-op with Shell but then was let go. Seems to be a little luck and timing also but such is life.

    Thanks again for your info and if you have any other insight then please share.
     
  7. billybob

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    The issue is, with so many contractors being laid off or crew sizes reduced, there are a lot of resumes out there for experienced workers. Large companies that are hiring don't have to roll the dice on green people anymore. The coal mines are struggling with staggered shutdowns and thats forcing a lot of experienced guys North.

    Thats not to say green guys do not get hired, because they do, just not as often as the last few years.
     
  8. Ron_87

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    billybob do you work at Kearl by chance? did anyone here apply for the September posting at Kearl? I did... I'm Green however.. looking to see if anyone else applied. please post if you did!
     
  9. Geo Mike

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    People, save your money and avoid Keyano College courses at all cost. [pun intended]. No company will hire you without at least 1 years heavy hauler experience. The heavy hauler course guarantees you nothing. You have a snow ball's chance in hell of getting a interview with the big oil companies with only the course on your resume. Older people need not apply. The big 4 have all sorts of reasons not to hire you. Reduced night vision is no. 1 reason not to hire someone in their fifties. Age discrimination in Ft Mac is rampant. Companies prefer you to be female, young and dumb with 1 yrs experience to drive the heavy haulers. Also automated trucks are on there way making it even tougher to land a job. Presently there are hundreds of recently let go drivers applying for the very few vacancies caused by attrition due to driver infractions [accidents, drug use, lateness, sleeping on the job etc.] and retirement.
    Best to start on the bottom with a contractor as a labourer and work your way up. Fuel truck operator positions are a good short cut to get noticed and work with the heavy haulers asap.
    Keyano College knows their course is useless as a stepping stone towards securing a coveted heavy hauler job with the big 4. Save your money and go for entry level jobs. It's really your only avenue to get any employment up there in today's economy if you have little or no direct experience. Tell your friends to avoid the Keyano route as well.
     
  10. NewMove

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    Just emailed with a former co-worker who did the Keyano thing about 5 years ago (yep she's a 20-something blonde). All paid for by the government. She's over at Suncor and was part of the women in trades thing. She had absolutely no experience doing anything other than my previous field. She used to drive a Ford Focus, that's the biggest vehicle she had ever seen! Happy and still working.

    But anyway, she did say that if you don't get into Keyano's Suncor class (they're unionized), you'll be gone after your practicum with any of the other outfits.

    I agree with you Geo Mike, if you don't have any sort of heavy oilfield equipment experience and a class 1, it's gonna be pretty much a waste of time to go to Keyano and spend 10K. If you're a woman or an aboriginal person, there might be a chance.

    Billybob thanks for this info. I have a 2Q plus CSTS09. That's about it, I'm an older worker who got laid off and there ain't no government plan that would pay for me to go to Keyano. Have you heard anything about power engineering with the entry level 4th class?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  11. GO 4TRANSIT

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    ...Like I said earlier................
     
  12. Geo Mike

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    I don't want to burst anyone's dream about making it in Ft Mac but things have changed drastically in the last 5 yrs in the Alberta oil industry. The thread is after all called reality check and you need to be realistic in your expectations and your chances of finding work.
    Others on this thread have mentioned many valuable and accurate points however until you actually have been in Ft Mac several months, such information won't really mean anything to the uninitiated.
    To get a job now in Ft Mac your resume needs an Alberta address and phone number. You need Alberta references. The Big 4 oil companies are looking for a commitment from you and some verifiable proof of Alberta residency is extremely helpful. You also need experience in whatever job you apply for.
    For heavy hauler driving jobs, Suncor demands you pass what's called "a Hogan's Personality Interview" before getting an actual job interview. This "test" is very difficult to pass. It favours young, average intelligent and highly compliant female applicants and totally discriminates against older males with authority issues and above average intelligence. Hence the phrase "they want em young, dumb and female."
    Suncor's Steep bank site is unionized and Suncor is trying to break the union. They don't want employees that stay more than two years at the job for two important reasons. 1) It's harder to get rid of employees that are trouble makers because the union protects them and they have to spend more on pensions the longer an employee stays. 2) Women are easier on the equipment and tires. Tires are a huge cost. Women drivers have more than 7% less tire wear than male drivers. It is one of the biggest costs of the trucks maintenance. Women also stay at the job a much shorter time than men are easier to maniplate. Suncor saves money if more women are drivers.
    However there is another sneaky reason Suncor wants "them young, dumb and female". Doesn't matter how good the driver is the computerized trucks are more efficient and cost effective. They need a good reason to get rid of most human drivers to make way for the automated fleet. Make room for more technologically unemployed truck drivers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  13. Wayne

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    Men doing burnouts in those big dump trucks or what?
     
  14. hank

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    Only the ones with above average intelligence and authority issues
     
  15. billybob

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    Dry Steering, high speed cornering, hitting chunks of spilled material, going too fast through rough spots are all brutally hard on tires. When your break even on a $70,000 tire is 5000 running hours, you want to be as easy on the tires as possible.

    If you only get 2500 hours on a tire before its scrapped for damage, that tire just cost you $105,000.

    Tires are a massive cost in the sands.
     
  16. billybob

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    Although I do agree with some of what Geo Mike is saying, I don't agree with the statement companies want "young, dumb females"

    The big 4 have massive amounts of resumes of top notch qualified equipment operators from all over Canada. They have their pick of the litter right now. I know some companies that are skipping hiring the jr truck drivers in favour of the experienced guys and retro training these people on trucks.

    Go to one of the Suncor job fairs with one year haul truck experience, male or female, and see what they say. They will basically tell you to get fucked. Work for one of the seven owner companies in ft Mac? They will tell you to get fucked too. Don't live within 150kms of one of their hub travel cities, fucked again.

    Now is the time they can scrutinize resumes and hire the best of the best.

    Also a note on automated trucks, they are 10-15 years away from running automated fleets. Anyone on truck now will not even remember how to operate one when automated trucks are a reality. They will have moved on to bigger and better equipment and opportunities. The ones that are happy driving a haul truck and are still there 10 years from now, guess they should have played their hand a little differently.

    Take this from a guy who was training on 797s barely 5 years ago who has been a foreman for over a year.
     
  17. Geo Mike

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    Billybob; Thanks for telling it as it is. My use of the phrase "young dumb and female" is age relative and directed towards Big Oil companies preference towards to new hires only. I was trying to make the point that in today's labour market, Keyano's Heavy Hauler course was absolutely next to useless for getting a job. And you explained accurately that Big Oil ain't gonna hire newbie driver's when they have the pick of the litter of thousands of experienced drivers recently let go.
    It's actually the Human Resources people asking for female drivers based on the fact that women are easier on the equipment and the fact that there ain't that many driving at the moment. [They'd like to see 50% women, 50% men].

    The iron mines in West Australia already have totally automated truck fleets. LOL. The most likely reason Ft Mac is behind is probably it because their computer geeks can't write proper computer algorthyms that will allow the trucks to operate in a snow storm which happens during most of the year.
     
  18. billybob

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    You're exactly right. Australia is ideal conditions, Northern Alberta is not. In rain and snow storms, it takes everything we've got to keep the big iron moving. There isn't a computer programmer in the world smart enough to keep these trucks rolling in our tough conditions.

    Also, I if you go back through this thread, for half a decade I have been telling people to save their money and skip the keyano course. There was a brief moment where the course would have helped you get hired, but that window is years gone and the market right now is dictating that only the elite are getting interviews.
     
  19. averof

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    Thanks for all the info guys. I was looking at the programs at Keyano and COTR and decided to avoid them largely thanks to this thread.


    I'm still interested in getting into heavy equipment operating as a career though and hopefully working my way up to some big machines. Seems like I have two general options. HEO training costs 10-12 grand at just about all the colleges I've seen and I'm wondering if it's another scam similar to these haul truck programs. They sound pretty intensive though and are about ~15 weeks long. I figure my other option is just to try getting hired on as a laborer or trainee somewhere and hope I can get a shot at working machines and move up like that. At this point I'm not too concerned with what industry I work in while I build up some experience, but I am going to try to ultimately get in with mining.

    I've worked in an industrial type setting most of my life, but really the most relevant experience I have is working on a frac crew out of Red Deer a few years ago for just one season. Didn't intend to stick around long as I wanted to travel. Thought I was pretty lucky getting that job as I just drove out from Ontario with no leads. Oil industry was doing a bit better at that time though eh.

    Wasn't sure where to post this but it seems fairly relevant to this thread. Didn't notice anyone else mention this kinda thing around the boards, so I'm wondering what the rest of you guys are planning then since haul trucking seems like long shot.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  20. NewMove

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    The problem with the oilsands is that there is no long term outlook about what oil will do but the heady days of the last decade are done. If you got in during that time, good for you and if you didn't then it's basically a roll of the dice with the odds against you. Aside from the politics and pundits, there is a glut of oil projected for the next year or longer from other producers.

    If you can find or have a profession or trade within the oilsands right now that withstands these market swings, then you're golden, if not...

    There are lots of post secondary scams by public taxpayer funded institutions that have to keep the dough rolling in. SAIT has become notorious for this with their infamous "fast track" programs but there are others too.

    I may sooner gamble with a simple online power engineering course than do anything like heavy hauling. Cheaper and not a whole lot of money lost. No chance of steam time, but it also won't cost $10K.
     
  21. Oki2015

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    Hi All,

    Can anyone provide any updates for the HEO program at Keyano? Specifically people who are currently attending or recent grads? How many of you are on the co-op and who has been offered full time after? I want to get a feel before I commit. Thank you!
     
  22. Geo Mike

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    Response to oki2015.....
    Realistically, you will have squat at the end of the course, be $20,000+ out of pocket or further indebt and will be competing with thousands of recently let go operaters in Ft Mac for very few job vacancies.
    In the present job market, and if you want to work in Ft Mac, you'll need 2+ years experience for anything other than entry level labour jobs. You need to be in the relevant labour union for operators and you will need to have a good contact. You'll need an Alberta drivers license, address and phone number on your resume.
    You need to be young (under 40 preferably) and in go health, be able to pass a pee test at any time, clear a criminal record check, have no infractions on your driver's license for the past 5 yrs.
    The big four oil companies will check. Better luck with contractors who spot check.
    Even if you are a great operator after the courses, you won't have anything on your resume the companies demand.
    It is pointless to take the courses at Keyano now. Even when the oil market picks up things won't be any better as the thousands recently laid off will be considered for any returning jobs before newbies with no experience.
    Unless you're a 20 - 30 yo minority female, your resume will never even be looked at and will be deleted immediately after a computer program scans it for key words.
    Save your money. Be realistic. Look for entry level jobs with contractors in the field and province you want to work in. Work hard and make friends with foreman and managers. Work your way up. Get noticed and you might get a chance to train for free to become an operator of your choosing.
    The odds are against you working for the big oil companies. Keyano might promise you interviews after graduating but it is all a bit of a scam. They'll just give you a list of contractors in Ft Mac to apply to instead that you can get yourself on the Internet. Not worth the 20 grand they'll suck from you.
     
  23. NewMove

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    Mostly this is accurate. But my former co-worker from Grande Prairie was a white female, blonde hair blue eyes. So it's not just minority females. If you mean aboriginal women, yes they get a special pass. But other than that, there are no minority males going to be working up there in heavy hauling. Yes age discrimination happens all the time and so does plain old regular discrimination - and it's not all against white males which has become the popular right wing banner that's often flown these days politically.
     
  24. Geo Mike

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    I apologize if you took my comments the wrong way. Perhaps you might want to reread my first post. I think I should also explain better the phrase "they want them young, dumb and female". Young [both males and female], dumb [just below to average intelligence, male or female], and female [in general just more female applicants]. These applicants will be considered as new hires with little or no experience. Older males in their 50s and 60s are routinely ignored for such entry level jobs. People in Human Resources Depts are now in their 20s and 30s and unconsciously and routinely hire their age related peers.
    If large oil companies and the government really want a work force that reflects the general makeup of the population then female workers as well as older workers are the least represented individuals in Ft Mac.
    Wait till you reach 60 yo yourself and then you'll come to know what age discrimination is really like. Your time will come sooner than you think.
    As for your remark about minority females meaning native or aboriginal females, well I meant all minorities in general. As for myself, I lived and went to a one room school house on a reserve till I was 10, I'm married to a native women, my child is native and more than half my relatives are native as well. Glad you agree native women should get a special pass.
     
  25. NewMove

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    No offense taken at all and none directed back you. I have had somewhat similar experiences. Young guy discriminated against most of his life now laid off and changing jobs with not a lot around for prospects. I think I get what you were saying. I am closer to your age than you think. I actually liked FM when I went there so that's what attracted me to to haul truck thing. My former co-worker is a really great person and I just wanted to point out that she's not young and dumb, just that she fit their hiring profile - which is what you're saying.

    And I can tell you that an employer told me indirectly in Calgary through my references back in the 90's: "the office isn't ready for a brown guy yet...". I had aced that interview but she (a white woman HR, about my age), needed an excuse to hire someone else.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  26. Robb1974

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    Just want to give you some insight on my personal experience through this...

    I'm coming up to my 1 year anniversary working for one of the Big 4 and I went through the Keyano course. Out of my class, 1/2 of us were hired on by the company sponsoring. The others that didn't make it through were due to reasons like... deciding it wasn't for them, not passing the interview, etc., and some went on and got hired on by the other companies. Half of us which were hired, were over 40 years of age, and I was one of them. I honestly don't think age had anything to do with it because I always felt that they were looking for the best candidates, regardless of age, race, etc. Another co-worker of mine that also went through the Keyano course several months after mine, told me that her class was almost all hired except for a small few.

    Sure taking the course is a gamble, but then again, everything in life is a gamble. I didn't have any experience in heavy equipment in the past so I knew that attending Keyano was my best avenue at becoming a heavy equipment operator. Nowadays, there is a surplus of operators available but, if the course can give you the chance to get you into a room for an interview, and quite possibly a shot at being hired, I feel that's better than just shooting out resumes here, there and everywhere... especially if you have no experience. Yes it doesn't guarantee you a full-time position when you graduate but the chance for it is a lot better than blindly sending out applications. I'm not trying to advertise that this course is the ONLY way you'll get hired on but it's what I went through and it worked out for me immensely. The course is not for everyone but do what YOU feel is acceptable and within YOUR own reasoning.
     
  27. Geo Mike

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    The class only takes 8 students per month now. They use to take 16 students up till about a 1.5 years ago. I took the course last year. No one was hired from my class of 8 people. Nor was anyone hired from the previous class. Only 4 of 8 people had an interview. The two oldest students were not granted an interview. The two only girls in the class were granted an interview. None of us had permanent Ft. Mac addresses.
    There was no uptake from our Suncor sponser as they demanded a Hogan's Personality Interview be taken as a precursor to obtaining an interview. This interview favours submissive personality traits.
    The manager who gave us a tour of the Suncor site told us flat out they had enough drivers for the next 3 months even with attrition.
    A fricken monkey can pass the heavy hauler written exam at Keyano. Unless you are attending the course when they need drivers asap you don't stand a chance at getting a job. You have to be pretty lucky to get a job in this present economic downturn in the Oil industry.
    If you look at any posting for drivers in the last 6 months you will see you need two years experience driving haul trucks for any HR to want to look at your resume.
    Presently, Syncrude is slightly better than Suncor for Keyano hires.
    The risk / reward is too great. If you are 50 years old or older Suncor HR will discard your resume without the 2 years minimum experience. Diminished night vision for older drivers is a death sentence to a heavy hauler driving career.
    If you can not afford to throw away 6000 dollars for a 1 month course with no guarantee of at least an interview then save the money and false hope anxiety.
    I would guess Robb that you are either working at the Fort Hills site or Syncrude site and you have an Alberta address.
     
  28. Robb1974

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    I'm not working for either of those sites actually and yeah I've got an Alberta address... I live in Edmonton. LOL
     
  29. Geo Mike

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    Yeah the big 4 really want to see the Alberta address. If you graduated high school in Alberta that helps too. They really want to see a commitment from prospective new hires to stay in the province and on the jobsite.
    Well good luck with the job. Hope you can get a career out of it and a decent pension after 20 yrs. That's the goal you should strive for. If they offer you other equipment to train on, take it. I'd like to try out for a shovel operator position but I'm afraid they'd consider me too old for anything now.
     
  30. punkineatr

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    I finally get to drive the truck. And only because of the college.:wave::wave:
     
  31. NewMove

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    It basically sounds like you're buying access to an interview. That's about it. There is no way I would spend $10K because it sounds like a casino bet. If you're there, good for you and hopefully it works out. But even with extensive education and Alberta everything I wouldn't touch this right now. Most upstream producers are just stuck with their bets - so that's what's happening right now. But eventually they're going to be in trouble 2-5 years down the line.

    They're hiring shuttle bus drivers out of Edmonton if you have a class 2q. That's a better bet.
     
  32. Geo Mike

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  33. Geo Mike

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    To NewMove:
    Exactly right. Keyano is a waste of time and a crap shoot at the moment. The advise and conditions at the start of this thread (in 2011) has changed considerably compared to the economic conditions that exist today in 2016.

    You have to be at the right place at the right time to get a haul truck job and your chances are about the same as winning the fricken lottery. Gotta buy a ticket to win but you only have a one in a million chance of getting a winning ticket or job.
     
  34. NewMove

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    Well, thanks to this thread and its posters, Geo Mike :) Too many people who already have heavy duty qualifications and can drive large machinery. The downstream odds are better.
     
  35. Oki2015

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    Does anyone know if Syncrude is full steam?? Are all mines in full operation??
     

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