Education /
June 15, 2018

Careers in Truck Driving Part II

High Demand, Good Pay, Great Industry, Low Career Interest

Our last newsletter focused on the issues of CDL careers and the challenges that both industry and education share together. We are happy to report that not only are education and industry sharing the issues and challenges, but the solutions are coming from collaboration. The Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA), the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence (TCOE), a select group of educators, innovators, and employers in addition to few individuals from economic and workforce development councils and insurance companies have a plan. Led by the MTA, these individuals make up the Driver Training Task Force. As of March 2018, a draft comprehensive plan is ready to be shared with everyone. The plan is multi-tiered, statewide, and collaborative.


The first part of this series covered the issue with 18-21 year old drivers not being able to cross state lines, not carry loads that originate or are destined to cross state lines. MTA’s president, John Hausladen, is working with a group from the US House of Representatives to fully understand the issue and how it affects not only the driver shortage, but adds to the logistical nightmare some companies face with scheduling loads. The deliverables of this work have been communicated and legislators are reacting.

US House Bill 5358, known as the DRIVE Safe Act (Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy), was introduced to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on March 21, 2018 and sponsored by Representative Duncan Hunter of California. The bill promotes job opportunities, enhances safety training for new employees in the workforce, and addresses the driver shortage issue. The DRIVE Safe Ace creates a basic apprenticeship. The employer-sponsored apprenticeship program is comprised of two supervised probationary periods totaling 400 hours of in-vehicle driving and training. A candidate for an employer-sponsored apprenticeship program must already hold a CDL and may begin apprenticeship-supervised driving in interstate commerce when they begin the apprenticeship program and may drive in interstate commerce independently following successful completion of the program.


Starting in the fall of 2018, 2 high schools in central Minnesota will be starting a pilot program. The partners involved in setting up this project are National Joint Powers Alliance of Staples (NJPA), the Minnesota Trucking Association, the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence, Central Lakes College’s Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance program, and Alexandria Technical and Community College’s Professional Truck Driver program. The 2 high schools where the pilot program will be implemented are Wadena Deer Creek (ISD 2155) and Staples Motley (ISD 2170).

The objective of the pilot program is to run the courses, assess performance, and build a model that can be implemented into any high school in Minnesota in collaboration with a Minnesota State college partner and local employers. The objective of the course itself is to gain exposure to the industry, build foundation skills and knowledge, have mentoring and job shadowing experiences with local employer partners, and prepare students for the CDL permit test.

This summer, the course work and curriculum is being created. The course will be approximately 90-100 hours in length and can be taught in multiple formats. A collaborative effort between MTA and the TCOE led to the design of a lower priced driving simulator, which both high schools are receiving funds to purchase. The coursework will result in articulated college credit for students.

In the spring of 2019, the TCOE will evaluate the project, prepare for statewide implementation and outreach to additional high schools. The MTA will outreach the model to additional employer partners.


The TCOE recently received an initiative grant from the Minnesota State System Office to develop statewide standardized curriculum. The curriculum will be co-developed with the MTA and the Driver Training Task Force. Once completed, the curriculum modules and lesson plans will align with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Entry-Level Driver Training competency standards. This curriculum would be adoptable by all Minnesota State colleges and able to be customized based on the local situation (credit or hour-based).

The grant will also help create a “Financing Your Future” portfolio for Minnesota State colleges to adopt locally, giving the schools the tools they need to help explain and explore funding for programs (i.e. workforce centers, veterans, local banks, employer sponsorships, apprenticeships, etc.).

The TCOE will be providing funds for the first year of membership to the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS) – a critical part of the checklist for the requirements for the 2020 legislation.


The MTA and the Driver Training Task Force first learned about the Minnesota Careers in Automotive Service and Repair (MNCARS) outreach platform in January 2019. MNCARS is a collaboration of industry and education whose objective is to increase awareness, debunk stereotypes, provide correct information, and help prospective students properly choose a career path. When MTA and the task force found out about this, they too wanted to create a similar platform and collaboration for the trucking industry and careers in Minnesota. The TCOE and MTA will be partnering together to create a similar platform that employers and educators can use freely and locally to perform outreach and engagement.

It’s no secret that CDL truck driver training programs across the nation are in short supply of students. Just ask the carrier employers who are having the current employees work overtime or are not taking in new business. Ask the warehouses and distributors about how many complaints they get from retailers about products not getting shipped in time. Ask the Minnesota Trucking Association (MTA) and every other state trucking association about the workforce shortage reaching critical mass for their members. Ask the education program teachers and administrators who have to close, reduce, or delay programs because of low enrollment.


In the next newsletter we will have the last part of this series. We will be communicating about the partnership with the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, program membership, and an update on the curriculum and outreach projects.