DESPITE a slow-growth economy, driver training program administrators with recently certified or recertified Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) courses are experiencing an increase in demand for their graduates and expect to benefit from the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative.
PTDI recently recertified courses in driver training programs at All-State Career School in Lester PA; Northern Industrial Training, Palmer AK; and Vocational Training & Resource Center, Juneau AK; and initially certified a course at Olive-Harvey College Commercial Driver Training in Chicago IL.
“The current economic situation is bringing additional inquiries to us from people who may not have thought of trucking [as a career]. With carriers hiring again, more opportunities are available, so now is a great time for entry-level truck drivers,” said Joanne Ivory, executive director at Olive-Harvey College Commercial Driver Training.
With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's CSA initiative in effect since December, Ivory believes Olive-Harvey's PTDI course-certified program will benefit even further “because employers are placing additional efforts and resources on driver safety.”
The purpose of CSA is to improve commercial vehicle safety by further reducing accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Through this initiative, the government will assess and evaluate motor carrier safety performance and identify driver behaviors associated with safety risks. Prospective employers will be able to obtain information on driver records as they place more emphasis on safety.
“Our goal is to teach people how to safely drive a truck, and the PTDI curriculum enhances what we provide,” Ivory said. “With the upcoming federal regulations, potential employers will be looking more closely at driver safety and records. New drivers will find good opportunities because they don't have marks on their records.”
Joey Crum, executive vice-president of Northern Industrial Training, anticipates both the current economic situation and the upcoming CSA regulations will benefit their program.
Because trucking is “one of the more stable career paths in Alaska,” according to Crum, “the competition is fairly stiff. But PTDI carries a good reputation, and we have one of the better training programs in the country. Carriers come to hire our graduates because of PTDI's credibility.”
When CSA goes into effect, Crum said he anticipates PTDI will serve them well and their enrollment will increase. “We will be training drivers for a local carrier that is sending their employees out here to grow their carrier service,” he said. He sees the carrier's willingness to pay to train their drivers as a good economic indicator and an advantage to Northern Industrial, “because we're not only offering training, we have a nationally certified course.”
Ivory, whose Chicago-based program received initial PTDI course certification, believes the nationally recognized certification will benefit them as well. “We are excited by the fact that our students get an additional certificate and PTDI gives you national recognition.
“Employers regularly come speak with us about what they're looking for,” Ivory said, “and PTDI has assisted us in being able to meet their needs. What's important to them is that they hire drivers who drive safely and are dependable, reliable, and willing to take on the life of a trucker.”
According to Amy Antrim, director of education at All-State Career School, “Employers are more selective at this point of time, so we want to be sure our students have everything they need in their pocket — and PTDI is absolutely one of those tools. In this economy, every industry saw a loss of jobs, so more people are competing for the jobs that are out there. It is extremely important for us that our drivers come out of here highly trained and able to be the best.”
Antrim said All-State Career School continues to seek recertification because “the PTDI standards are extremely important for this industry. When we're held to high standards, we're going to make sure our students are held to high standards. That's the feedback we're hearing from employers — we stress professionalism.
“We have a significant number of long-standing employers, local and over-the-road carriers, who continue to hire our graduates, and that's the best measure of our success: the amount of companies coming back to us and going to our job fairs,” Antrim said.
For the future, Crum believes CSA will not only benefit driver programs with PTDI-certified courses, but also the industry in general.
“When these new federal laws come into place, and as the industry follows these regulations, drivers will be seen as more professional,” Crum said.