Trucking apprenticeships for veterans ‘good recruiting and retention tool’ says industry insider
March 24, 2022
Many carriers struggle with hiring and retaining dependable drivers. According to some in the industry, transitioning military veterans may be the key to solving those hiring woes.
Software development company Fastport is one company dedicated to helping transitioning service members find jobs in trucking. The company is also a U.S. Department of Labor-funded intermediary working to establish registered apprenticeship programs in the transportation industry.
Fastport was among the presenters during The Value of Veteran Drivers event on March 24 at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. The lecture, presented by Veterans in Trucking, was part of the Pro Talks education series at MATS.
Dave Harrison, executive director for national apprenticeships and military program management for Fastport, said transitioning service members possess a valuable set of soft skills. These include leadership, adaptability, loyalty, integrity and work ethic. Harrison said those skills are one of the big reasons veterans make good drivers.
“No one is getting these skills in college or in high school,” Harrison said. “Sadly, most aren’t getting them at home. Veterans have all these soft skills, and those are what employers need.”
Harrison, who served as an adviser for President Biden’s 90-Day Trucking Action Plan, said he believes that the call to serve is another reason former military members make a smooth transition to the industry.
“We know without the military this country dies. We also know that without this industry this country dies. In that sense, we’re still serving,” he said.
According to Matt Roland, vice president of sales for Veterans in Trucking, the similarity in lifestyles between the military and the trucking industry is another reason transitioning service members are well equipped to be drivers.
“We’re bringing awareness to the parallels and crossover between trucker life and military life,” Roland said. “We’re committed to helping our military heroes transition into a life in the trucking industry.”
Apprenticeship programs have an impact on driver retention
According to data from Fastport, 94% of new truck driver apprentices remain at their employer after their apprenticeship has ended. Additionally, employers with registered apprenticeship programs can offer G.I. Bill benefits to veterans.
“That’s money on top of the salary you’re paying your driver,” Harrison said. “I gotta imagine that’s a pretty good recruiting and retention tool.”
Josh Mecca, director of recruiting with Kansas City, Mo.-based American Central Transport, is a proponent of hiring veterans. He said the success they’ve had hiring former military members has led them to target veterans in recruiting efforts.
“We’re about one-third veterans across our general fleet,” Mecca said. “We were recruiting to veterans and the numbers in our classes showed. We find that not only are veterans just great people, they’re also great employees.” LL