PTDI-certified training programs expecting benefits from driver shortage, stricter rules

Sept. 20, 2011
Five truck driver training programs that recently received course recertification from the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) expect the driver shortage and increased regulations will benefit their programs and the driving public.

Five truck driver training programs that recently received course recertification from the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) expect the driver shortage and increased regulations will benefit their programs and the driving public.

Locations that received the five-year certification are All-State Career, Baltimore MD; Baker College of Flint, both the Flint and Saginaw MI campuses; Lehigh Career & Technical Institute, Schnecksville PA; and Swift Driving Academy, Lewiston ID.

“I see the predicted driver shortage as a positive for truck driver training programs associated with PTDI,” said David Wehman, system program coordinator at Baker College of Flint. “As companies demand more quality in their entry-level positions and as existing drivers with a high PSP score are weeded out of this industry, training programs that insist on putting a professional driver on the road should see an increase in enrollment. As insurance companies demand quality drivers, companies are demanding more from their drivers as well.”

Larry Fishman, campus president at All-State Career, is already witnessing an increased demand. “Our truck driving program has always been our backbone,” Fishman said, “but it’s been interesting how in the last 18 months, employers are banging on our doors. One guy came looking for 70 drivers! It creates a buzz in the student body to see these employers coming in wanting to hire.”

Fishman expects more potential drivers will enroll “because of the recommendations of our program,” which, in turn, will benefit the public. “As we put out higher quality, safer drivers, it ripples through the industry as well as the driving public,” Fishman said.

Randy Zimmerman, coordinator of training at Lehigh Career and Technical Institutec, concurs. “With Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA 2010) regulations out there and insurance company requirements, it means carriers can’t lessen their criteria. If anything, they will have to be more stringent in who they hire,” Zimmerman said.

According to Zimmerman, Lehigh has also experienced “an increase in requests for our drivers since last July,” and he expects carriers’ requests for their graduates will continue to increase, as will the number of students in their program.

But will more people turn to trucking as a career to help fill the growing demand? Zimmerman thinks so. “People are more open-minded about taking open road jobs,” he said. “I’ve always told prospective drivers it’s a way to get your feet wet in the industry, and it’s not for everybody, but we’re seeing people entering this career who would not have considered it as an option five years ago—people coming out of the financial industry, for instance. In this economy, it’s a more viable option to sustain a decent wage. We expect our program will continue to blossom.”

Loary Roberts, academy director at Swift Driving Academy, agreed. “With the current economy, trucking is the best option. There may be other options out there, but our students say they get to travel, see the country, deal with different people, and they earn a good wage.”

Roberts also said quality training leads to better retention. “All we do is preach safety, for our drivers to be safe when they go out on the road, and I think the better our drivers are trained, the more they will stay with a company,” he said.

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