As the transportation industry looks to recruit and train the next generation of drivers, more U.S. high schools are looking to start or expand truck driving vocational programs.
One high school in Patterson, Calif., is among the first non-vocational high schools to offer a truck driving program. According to an article posted on Transportdive.com, Patterson High School offers an elective course for high school seniors in partnership with Morning Star Trucking. The course provides students with behind-the-wheel training and potential employment opportunities.
Transportdive.com quotes Dave Dein, who heads Patterson High School’s trucking program, as saying that 60 other high schools across the nation have shown an interest in starting their own programs. Dein, an instructor in the school’s supply chain and logistics program, is particularly interested in making the profession attractive to students as he is the co-founder of the Next Generation in Trucking Association, a non-profit organization looking to recruit young people into the industry.
“I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished,” Dein said.
The course was designed based on the highest standards of the Professional Truck Driver Institute, according to the school’s course catalog, and students are required to complete 90 hours of lecture and 90 hours of hands-on activities.
It’s important to look toward young truck drivers entering the profession as trucking is an aging industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median driver age stands at 46 in 2021. In addition, the aAmerican Trucking Associations has warned that the industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers over the next decade to make up for rising demand and a wave of retirements.
Convincing young people to join trucking takes some effort, said Robert Behnke, director of truck driving at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc. He wants to get the message out that great opportunities exist for many people of any age in trucking.
“Trucking should no longer be stereotyped as a dirty, never home, all alone, type of career, but instead it should be marketed as a professional, diverse, and rewarding career that we are all proud to be a part of,” Behnke said.