Neil Vorleto’s story

Having joined the transport industry in 1991 working as a motor vehicle technician, moving into managing transport, and subsequently administration for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Ghana, Neil Vorleto tells the story of his 30 years in transport and how he came to be involved in Transaid’s driver training programme in Ghana.

With funding from Puma Energy Foundation, Transaid’s Professional Driver Training project in Ghana aims to raise training standards through the development of a new HGV driver training standard and expand training capacity by training trainers in accordance to this standard.

Neil is 52 years old, and is married with three daughters. In 1995, he moved from the garage to managing transport, and started studying transport management courses with CILT Ghana, which he later joined as an employee in 2000.

“I did not necessarily begin a career in professional driving after getting my HGV licence in 1996, but because of my work as a transport manager, I was in charge of large vehicles and fleets. With my background as a vehicle technician in the garage, I was regularly called upon to test drive these vehicles after repairs, and also if the government wanted to purchase some large goods vehicles or buses.

“Often drivers didn’t want to go to work, so they would play some tricks and will fake a defect on the vehicle. Part of my role was to take the vehicles out on the road and detect whether or not what they are saying is true.”

Neil started working as a driver trainer in 2008 for a transport consultancy. He was given some brief tutorials, and then started training drivers from various different organisations including the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), as well as some large private transporters.

“I have seen so many scenarios on the road. There is a knowledge gap in driver training. The training that I participated in previously to Transaid was based on experience. It was more self-taught – we’d pick topics, do background research and that was how we developed.

“It is difficult to find training to become an HGV driver, in fact that training is nonexistent (in Ghana). It is also hard to become a driver trainer. Which institution will you go to and get that kind of training? What is that training? What is available? Nobody knew where to get this knowledge.

“I don’t know of an institution that trains HGV drivers. The National Drivers Academy did, but it was a one-time project where they trained women to drive Ayalolo buses. This was not open to everyone, and there are a lot of these one-time projects which have a special dispensation from the DVLA.

“In Ghana, we lack the institution that is available to train someone who says they want to be an HGV driver. That facility is not available, and even if it was, licencing will also be an issue as it can take years to get from licence B to F.”

Neil heard about Transaid’s Training of Trainers (ToT) programme because he is a chartered member of CILT Ghana and also the Vice President in charge of Education and Professional Development. He is called upon to serve on committees, including an advocacy working group which supports Transaid’s activities in Ghana.

Neil’s theory training was led by Moses Tayebwa, a Master Trainer on Transaid’s Professional Driver Training project in Uganda. From the first week, he noticed that there was so much to know and learn.

“I can see the whole driver training scene here in Ghana, we overlook and take for granted so many things that cannot be ignored as far as road safety is concerned. This is competency-based training and these things are key. You are developing the attitude of the trainee, so that their behaviour on the road will be that of safety and responsibility.”

“During the theory classes we were asked to do presentations. I presented on transport and the environment, and I really was amazed at the level of my presentation, and was commended by my colleagues. If I had to do this before the training, I don’t think it would have been to that standard.

“Training helps the environment because we learn about the cost of running transport in terms of fuel, maintenance, tyres, batteries and other factors. If drivers are trained to drive safely and responsibly, they will not be doing unnecessary idling – which is going to increase the carbon footprint. They will not be revving too much – which will increase fuel consumption.

“If drivers are driving safely, they are also driving responsibly – and in turn their carbon footprint will be lower. Once this is lowered, it shows they know about transport and the effect on the environment. They know the best practice, and the best way to handle situations.”

CILT Ghana played an active role in the development of the new driver training standard, with Neil supporting the work as part of the team that reviewed and updated both the curriculum and trainer’s manual in the second year of the project.

“The training standard that was developed is good, its scope was deeper and wider than any other material I have seen before.”

Neil was invited to participate in the Training of Master Trainers (ToMT) activity which advances driver trainers to a level whereby they can train other trainers as demand requires.

“Until I started the ToMT, I thought that the ToT was the best. When we started the ToMT, I realised that there is even more to learn. I still read and re-read my notes as if I am about to take an exam because the depth of the ToMT is so vast.

“When we were asked to do presentations again, most of us improved upon those that we used during the ToT. By the time I started the introduction, the trainer (Mwaipopo) would dissect what I said and make me think even deeper. I do remember that during the ToT, Moses Tayebwa told us that things were accepted at this level that would not be if we went on to the ToMT. When we got to there, it was indeed very different.

“It was about paying attention to detail. No word, phrase or paragraph is redundant, each serves a purpose. The training was about competency, excellence and nothing else.”

The practical training for the ToMT was instructed by Jon Aspden, Head of Driver Training at Clipper Logistics (now part of GXO).

“Even though the principles are the same, the way it is delivered was different. The emphasis was on where a correction was needed, and you must get that right, otherwise you will not progress.

“On the first day of practical ToMT, I collected Jon from his hotel and he told me my driving is passive aggressive. On the last day, he said my driving is now a good standard, it is perfect. I have really seen a change in my driving after the practical ToMT.”

As part of his role at CILT Ghana, Neil regularly presents on the institute’s work at forums to drivers and driver associations.

“The training with Transaid has helped so much in my job and career, it has improved my work. When I speak to people about driver training, they notice that I have something they don’t have.

“They ask how I got this knowledge, and how they can also obtain it. People in the transport industry have taken my CV and profile to contact me in the future to provide training. They want me to impart my knowledge to them.”

During the ToT, Neil enjoyed training with a mixed gender group which included two female trainers.

“In the past, female drivers and trainers in Ghana were non-existent, but Ghanaians have a culture where we accept people easily. Although it is an environment where you don’t find many women, those in the industry are accepted and encouraged to train.

“I would say that chauvinism is still there in some men, and this can often mean that the woman has to prove herself, be well trained and show that she knows things.”

“I think the next steps in Ghana is to establish a driver training facility, where we would have trucks available, land space, classrooms, and we can train somebody fresh using the new curriculum. In this curriculum, we have driving philosophy – it is better to train a person with the right knowledge from scratch, for them to develop it from that point rather than try to change somebody who has learnt the wrong things.

“We need to bring the authorities and the institution or whoever is training that person together, this institution needs to be accepted by the DVLA, so that when such an institution issues a certificate, the DVLA is able to issue a licence after their assessment.”

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