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Partnership aims for 100,000 driver apprenticeships

Kevin Burch, chairman of the American Trucking Associations

Kevin Burch, chairman of the American Trucking Associations, says, “The challenge is not finding warm bodies” for truck drivers, but finding people who have the proper skills and are committed to safety. “That’s why an apprenticeship program is such great opportunity,” he says.

A new partnership will expand apprenticeship opportunities in the transportation and logistics sectors, with an extra emphasis on military veterans, by helping them enter an accredited commercial driver license school.

The National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools and Fastport Inc. are co-sponsoring a National Standard Registered Apprenticeship Program for Professional Truck Drivers. NAPFTDS represents 117 publicly funded schools from 37 states.

The program has a goal of hiring “over 100,000 new apprentices in the next four years,” said Bill McLennan, CEO of Fastport. “It is a competitive imperative for American businesses to embrace apprenticeship models.”

Dave Harrison, Fastport executive director of national apprenticeship, said, “This public/private partnership between the Department of Labor and industry associations is a significant pathway to meaningful career opportunities.”

The old sentiment that a college degree guarantees a good job is “flawed,” said Brad Bentley, Fastport president. “Higher education has failed to provide the working class with marketable skills,” he said. “That missing ingredient is apprenticeships.”

That’s also true in trucking, said Kevin Burch, chairman of the American Trucking Associations. Driving jobs pay well, he said, and the industry now is the top provider of jobs in 29 states.

Fastport is an employment software development company that builds products to help veterans, members of the National Guard and National Reserve, transitioning service members and military spouses to find meaningful employment.

NAPFTDS promotes public education for the transportation industry. Through membership, educators can network with other truck driving schools across the country to provide the highest quality training.

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Max Heine is editorial director of Overdrive and writes regularly for the Overdrive Extra blog. A CDL holder, he joined Overdrive in 1998 after more than two decades of newspaper work. You can reach him at mheine@randallreilly.com or 205-248-1038.