Drivers can earn education behind the wheel

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TransMarkets Technologies, a trucking technology provider, and Chattanooga State, one of the Southeast’s largest community colleges, have announced the establishment of InCab University, which they say is the first and only accredited college education program specifically designed to allow truck drivers to continue their education while driving.

InCab University says it will offer access to Chattanooga State’s online class library to drivers by developing a special network for them to receive education and classes over any Internet-enabled PC or InCab device. Unlike traditional online classes, the courses are designed specifically with the driver’s needs in mind, with professors that are empathetic to the driving lifestyle, and with flexible scheduling that accommodatives drivers. The program is designed to serve the 1.5 million long-haul drivers that transverse the nation’s highway system, allowing drivers to receive an accredited degree all within the privacy of their cabs.

Drivers are allowed to begin classes throughout the year without regard to the calendar, so long as they finish their courses within 16 weeks. The professors also are recruited nationwide and undergo an orientation program that ensures the educator understands the truck driving lifestyle and work experience, says James Langley, vice president of information technology and program development for InCab University.

“It is important for the program professors to understand the challenges drivers face over-the-road,” Langley says. “Driving is not your average career, and can be difficult and less structured than most jobs with long hours and changing schedules. InCab University incorporates flexibility and professors that can empathize with the students. We have worked hard to ensure that the drivers have a pleasant and rewarding experience, while gaining a valuable set of skills that can take them far in life.”

The team at InCab University says it has worked hard to ensure that the material will appeal to a wide audience, and not be limited to business classes or classes about the industry. “With this program, truck drivers can continue their jobs driving across the country and still further their education,” says Jon Ricketts, director of InCab University. “Nothing is more powerful to career growth than experience and education. Drivers that wish to move beyond the wheel and into the office at their employer will have a unique advantage over their peers. It is the mission of InCab U to not only offer education, but to also work with fleets to ensure that the material is relevant and will encourage recruiting from within.”

The program includes classes from diverse subjects, including small business management and criminal justice. “Drivers have a wide array of interests that are not easy to define,” Ricketts says. “We have focused on course development by ensuring that the courses would have wide appeal and would engage the student. Many of the classes will incorporate scenarios that the driver can relate with, including our courses on business management that use case studies from the trucking industry. One of the certificate programs that get the most drivers interested is our class on homeland security that encourages drivers to be aware and vigilant for what they see in their day-to-day job.”

InCab University says transportation companies want to offer this program as an incentive to their employees. Covenant Transportation, based in Chattanooga, is the first trucking company with the rights to offer courses to all of its drivers throughout the United States. “It’s not like this is a classroom that only holds 30 students,” says Jim Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State. “Companies that want to offer this as a sign-on bonus to their employees may see scores of recruits that choose to take them up on the offer, and we can accommodate them easily.”

Craig Fuller, chief executive officer of InCab University, says the program was modeled on the success and effectiveness of the GI bill. “It has served at bringing entrants into the military that choose this career path with the hope of earning a college degree, while making a living and seeing the world,” Fuller says. “We believe that trucking can be attractive in the same way, by opening up college education as a recruiting tool for fleets. This is perfect for folks that wish to earn a college degree, make a good living and see the country. In time, we believe this will be a necessary offering by carriers that are focused on retention and recruiting.”

InCab University says it is seeing overwhelming support from the trucking industry as a whole, not just trucking fleets; companies connected to the industry are looking to partner with InCab University to offer scholarships and other incentives to drivers. “We are encouraged by the support the industry has given InCab University in developing creative programs and incentives for drivers that participate in the program,” Fuller says. “We have had numerous discussions with vendors and suppliers that are willing to offer discounts and free services to drivers that participate in InCab U.”