Yellow Corp., which controls 10% of the nation’s less-than-truckload (LTL) capacity as one of longest-operating trucking companies in America, is addressing the nation’s shortage of truck drivers head on and in house.
Yellow is adding two new driving academies to its stable of 14 schools to prepare the next generation of professional truck drivers for careers in transportation.
The new academies are located in two of the nation’s top transportation hubs, Marietta, Ga., outside Atlanta, and Cincinnati, providing Yellow gateways to the South and Midwest.
“It’s tuition-free and a learn-as-you-earn program,” Yellow CEO Darren Hawkins told LM. “It’s certified with the Labor Department. I’ve talked with (Labor Secretary) Marty Walsh and he’s committed to growing economic opportunities for drivers through these apprentice programs.”
Hawkins added that he’s so convinced these apprentice programs are the correct way to address the perennial driver shortage in America—now estimated at 80,000 by the American Trucking Associations—that he’s recommending his formula to other trucking companies as well.
“We’re going to be able to bring in new drivers, and certainly more women and minorities,” Hawkins said. “We’re introducing the industry to a wider and broader audience—not just recruiting people from other trucking companies.”
For at least a decade or so, most trucking companies—especially in the non-union, long-haul truckload segment—have simply “poached” drivers from one rival or another. Yellow, a Teamsters union-covered company, is taking a different approach. The carrot at the end of the stick is a union job that pays upward of $80,000 a year, including benefits such as free medical coverage and a company-paid pension of $3,000 a month.
“We need to grow the overall population of applicants for Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs),” Hawkins explained. “That’s what we’re committed to doing. And that’s the intention of our driver academies.
“Our drivers are top shelf and trained by the best,” Hawkins added.
Yellow’s driving academies are owned and operated by the company. Its longest-serving, most experienced driving professionals provide student instruction and peer-to-peer mentorship.
“Everything we teach emphasizes safety: safety of our drivers, colleagues, customers and the driving public. That remains our top priority,” said Hawkins.
Students enrolled in the academies are provided classroom training combined with hands-on, behind-the-wheel instruction with experienced safety professionals. The program is tuition-free.
At the completion of their instruction, trainees sit for the CDL test. Upon passage, they complete their initial apprenticeship training with veteran Yellow drivers. When all driving qualifications are met, graduates will join Yellow’s team of 14,000 professional drivers.
“For anyone aspiring to a career that provides a good salary and full benefits that gets them on the open road and not behind a desk, trucking is a smart choice. Many of our drivers spend their entire careers with Yellow,” Hawkins said.
The ATA estimates that 1 million drivers over the next decade are needed to replace those drivers who retire or exit the industry.
With the addition of Yellow Corporation’s Marietta and Cincinnati locations, Yellow has 16 established driving academies nationwide: Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Cleveland, Denver Fort Worth, Hagerstown Md., Indianapolis, Kansas City, Memphis, Nashville, Pico Rivera, Calif., Portland Ore., Salt Lake City and South Bend, Ind. Yellow plans to open additional locations this year.
Yellow’s 16 driving academies are certified as Department of Labor apprenticeship programs. The Department of Labor apprenticeship program is designed to provide paid on-the-job training while workers train for a highly skilled job. The programs are all part of the Biden administration’s long-term solution to end the chronic driver shortage and to upgrade truck driver pay.
About the Author
John D. Schulz
John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. John is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis.
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