One veteran driver in Dalton, GA, is setting new drivers up to get CDL trucking jobs and keep them: through CDL trucking school.
John Smith, founder and instructor at Big Rig Driving Academy, a new CDL truck driving school, has worked in the trucking industry for 20 years.
In a story in Transport Topics magazine, he says he feels well prepared to start a CDL training school
However, Smith’s Big Rig Driving Academy is taking a different approach to training drivers for CDL trucking jobs.
Training geared toward driver retention
In its story, Transport Topics writes:
Overall, Smith now knows all about big trucks — about driving them, inspecting them and filling them with drivers. Two decades in various roles in fleet safety and recruiting, he feels, has prepared him well to start a CDL trucking school and equip new commercial drivers with the information they need to not only get jobs, but also keep them.
Smith’s school is unlike many other driver training programs
Prior to acceptance into the program, students sit down with Smith and talk not only about the program, but their interest in a career in trucking. Smith said throughout his career at corporate trucking companies he has seen many new drivers go through training and go out on the road, only to throw in the towel and quit before hitting the six-month mark.
“There’s a better way to get people ready,” Smith said, “and the industry needs that.”
Currently, the trucking industry faces a major shortage of around 35,000 to 40,000 drivers, and the gap is projected to widen over the next six years, according to American Trucking Associations. The industry has struggled to bring new, young workers into driving, even as veteran drivers leave.
Today, the average age of American truck drivers is 49
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said greater competition for workers. CDL school costs are two factors leading to the shortage.
Plus, driver turnover at large fleets remains very high, with many large companies replacing up to 95% of their drivers every year.
Smith sees all these issues and believes commercial driving schools can do more on the front end to better vet recruits and better prepare the ones who choose a career in driving. His vision for Big Rig Driving Academy means establishing a reputation as a leader in driver education.
“If the Ivy League had CDL trucking schools, we would probably be in it,” he said. “We’re the elite, I think, CDL school around here.”
The first round of classes at the school starts this month. For more on Smith’s vision, read the rest of the Transport Topics story here.
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