Next Generation in Trucking Foundation launches CDL curriculum for high schools

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Young truck driver
High school students across the U.S. will now have the opportunity to train in trucking with a newly released curriculum.
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Next Generation in Trucking (NGT) Foundation is working to change the perception of trucking as a career with the launch of a new curriculum companion that supports high school commercial driver’s license programs across the country.

The first-of-its-kind curriculum companion, which provides five online modules aligned with ELDT (entry-level driver training) standards along with classroom activities, videos, handouts and assessments for educators, supports high school teachers through a yearlong CDL course. At the conclusion of the course, the high school students should be prepared to successfully complete the commercial learner’s permit exam after they turn 18. The curriculum, free to NGT members and sponsored schools, is already used by 35 schools, and that number is expected to double next year, said Lindsey Trent, president and co-founder of NGT.

“This is brand new and will be able to get trucking programs in high schools scaled across the country,” she said. “We hope this will help change the image of trucking. It's about educating the next generation, their parents and schools about the trucking industry and supply chain. If we can make trucking a first career choice instead of a second and third, we think that will elevate the image of trucking.

“They can choose being a heavy equipment operator, welder or plumber; why can't we make trucking a career choice for high school students,” she added.

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The curriculum companion is an online resource designed to be used in conjunction with online ELDT courses for adult learners, while adapting materials for high school students and providing hands-on activities. Trent said in addition to high schools, she expects NGT’s carrier members that are training providers will also want to use the curriculum guide.

Course materials aim to equip students to have long, healthy careers with the incorporation of SafeWork Training: Powered with Worklete (injury prevention) and The Supply Chain Fitness Company (health and nutrition). The course includes lab hours with driver simulation training and golf cart backing skills. It also features field trips, guest speakers and industry engagement opportunities. 

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“Imagine how different our industry would look and feel if trucking was a first career choice for more people,” said Dave Dein, co-founder of the NGT Foundation. “Ten years from now, we'll look back at this point as this defining moment in the trucking industry when high schools took a proactive approach and provided the highest level of training for our students.”

Dein, who is also the teacher at the flagship high school CDL program in Patterson, Calif., worked with Education Development Center (EDC) to develop the curriculum with the help of funding via a grant from Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America and the PepsiCo Foundation.

Ricardo Jimenez, a graduate of the Patterson High School program said he never considered trucking as a career, but he now owns his own trucking company after a friend convinced him to take the trucking course.

“I thought it wasn't a real career and that there was no passion or vision in it … I not only developed a passion for trucking, but I also learned about the impact that truck drivers have around the world,” Jimenez said. “The trucking program at Patterson High School changed my life, and it has changed the lives of many other students who have enrolled in the course. I believe that with more programs like this across the country, we can inspire more young students to find their passion in trucking.”

Trent said this curriculum will encourage more high schools to include a CDL offering. NGT will present at the Association of Career Technical Education Vision conference at the end of November to educate schools on how to start these programs. 

“This is a game changer for fulfilling our mission,” she said.

Angel Coker Jones is a senior editor of Commercial Carrier Journal, covering the technology, safety and business segments. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and kayaking, horseback riding, foraging for medicinal plants and napping. She also enjoys traveling to new places to try local food, beer and wine. Reach her at [email protected].