Our industry continues to struggle with driver retention and in finding ways to attract quality individuals to a career in trucking. At present, even with staggeringly high unemployment, trucking is still considered an undesirable profession.
What trucking needs is a paradigm shift. Under its current hiring methods, a trucker's job description is two-dimensional: a trainee, a trucker, and very little room for advancement or increase in compensation. This is where the shift needs to occur.
If carriers embrace a “student, trainee, apprentice, journeyman, master trucker and master trucker trainer” ladder structure, training new entrants and granting CEUs (continuing education units) that advance a trucker would shrink the turnover rate. Here's an outline:
A minimum of three months or 480 hours of trucking school, focused on driving basics such as backing and rules of the road. When broken down, drivers would need at least 120 hours driving a truck on streets and highways; 60 hours of backing and maneuvering a truck in tight situations; then 60 hours of understanding the mechanics of a truck and mastering the pre- and post-trip inspections. The remaining 240 hours of classroom instruction would be spent learning how FMCSA regulations and HOS work, and including a course explaining what life on the road is really like.
After the new entry-level trucker graduates from trucking school and receives a CDL, he/she would be placed with a master trucker trainer for a minimum of six months at his/her carrier. During the training period, anytime the trainee is in the driver's seat, the trainer is instructing from the passenger seat. In order for the trainee to move up to the apprentice level, he/she must pass a skills and knowledge test administered by a third party (not the carrier).
Once the trainee becomes an apprentice, he/she teams with a journeyman or master trucker for a minimum of one year to gain additional experience, sharing driving with the lead team driver.
To become a journeyman, meaning a solo driver or lease operator, the apprentice must pass a skills and knowledge test after completing 10 hours of CEUs. In addition, he/she must have a minimum of 12 months and 100,000 mi. of accident-free experience with no major traffic or out-of-service violations.
This requires an additional 30 hours of CEUs, covering driving, freight handling and trucking business skills and knowledge. He/she must have a minimum of five years and 500,000 mi., pass a master trucker's skills and knowledge test, and have an accident-free driving record.
Master trucker trainer
In addition to the required 30 CEUs to become a master trucker, he/she must complete a truck driver trainer certification course worth 30 CEUs, and pass a written test and skills exam. The trucker must be accident- and ticket-free for a minimum of five years to receive this certification.
This comprehensive program would reduce turnover and make trucking a career with advancement and good compensation based on skills, knowledge and experience.
Imagine picking the best of the best for your drivers.
Contact Tim Brady at 731-749-8567
or at www.timothybrady.com