A California high school is training students in truck driving amid a national shortage of drivers in the industry.
Patterson High School in California is a non-vocational school that offers its truck driving program as an elective to seniors, according to NPR. The course is part of a larger program in the school called the Career Technical Education Program.
Dave Dein is an instructor of the course and serves as the vice-chair of the nonprofit Next Generation in Trucking Association.
Dein teaches his students the basics of trucking and informs them of the regulations that must be met to obtain a license, according to NPR. He also presents students with scenarios a trucker may potentially face during hauls.
“A lot of [students] who enroll in the course have never considered trucking as a career,” Dein told NPR. “Trucking doesn’t have a great reputation and it comes with a lot of misconceptions about what exactly a truck driver is.”
“If we don’t start promoting trucking to our youth, they only can make decisions on the information that they have,” Dein added.
Under Dein’s instruction, students log a total of 110 hours of training between 80 hours in the classroom and 30 hours during lab sessions, NPR reports.
“Usually, when they graduate here in May, by mid-summer, they can have their CDL,” Dein said, according to the Trucker. “We also have industry partners so they can get jobs.”
As it presently stands, a trucker must be at least 21-years-old to transport goods between state lines, NPR reports.
The need for an up-and-coming generation of drivers is becoming dire as the average age of a trucker is 54, according to NPR.
In an interview with Fox News, Dein explained that “the average age of someone entering into the industry today is 38-years-old.
Further exacerbating the issue is the fact that 25 percent of truckers have either reached or are approaching retirement age says, Lindsey Trent, according to NPR. Trent is a co-founder of the Next Generation in Trucking Association and serves as the organization’s president. As of now, the industry is short 68,000 drivers, and by 2028 the number could break 100,000, Trent says.
“We need good, safe drivers. Instead of [trucking] being a second or third career choice for people, we’re trying to be the first choice and really attract talent in our industry at a younger age,” Trent said.
NPR reports that one student, Eduardo Dominguez-Sotelo, did not think trucking was for him, but after taking the course with Dein, he decided that the profession suits him. “In the end, it actually ended up being a good fit for me,” Dominguez-Sotelo stated. He is on track to graduate in 2022 and plans to truck part-time while pursuing a career in computer engineering.