Trucker School: A Unique Solution to a Growing Demand

Trucker School: A Unique Solution to a Growing Demand

Indiana is a state that’s been structured well to serve the needs of the logistics and transportation industries, but it still has to develop new tools to solve the growing problem of trucker employment shortages. Freight is booming and there haven’t been enough truckers to fill open positions, so the Hoosier state has been adapting in interesting new ways. Most notably, a one-of-a-kind training program has recently launched to help more drivers enter the industry. Those that are graduating have a positive employment outlook ahead of them.


First-Ever Commercial Truck Driving Curriculum

At the start of the year, the nation’s first training program for commercial truck driving that is covered by federal student loans was launched in Indiana. Five Ivy Tech Community College campuses now offer the new CDL+ curriculum, which was developed by Conexus Indiana, the Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA), Venture Logistics, and Ivy Tech. An additional eight Ivy Tech locations will offer the course later this year.

This is the first CDL program that is eligible for federal student loans, which required both state and federal legislation and approval from the U.S. Department of Education. The state of Indiana is also working to ensure CDL+ is eligible for Workforce Ready Grants, which can be used to cover tuition costs and further reduce financial barriers to entry into the trucking industry.

“Shortages of truck drivers have been a pervasive problem for years, and only magnified by COVID-19, which has led to significant increases in online shopping,” said Bryce Carpenter, vice president of industry engagement for Conexus Indiana. “In response to this ongoing and growing critical need, Conexus Indiana worked with its network of logistics industry leaders to identify the barriers. It became clear quickly that students were held back by the cost of earning a certificate and that companies spent an inordinate amount of time and money training drivers before they could get to work. The CDL+ program addresses all of these obstacles.”

“This is both a huge step forward for Hoosiers who want a career in the logistics industry and our industry partners who are eager to hire qualified drivers,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech.


Producing Hirable Candidates Quickly

As Carpenter mentioned, the costs of training a new driver are high for Indiana trucking companies. It’s difficult to get an accurate number on that, but older estimates range from at least $5,000 to $10,000 when things like wages, recruitment, orientation, training, and others are included. Costs may be even higher for some companies, and that’s why the new CDL+ curriculum has been designed to produce hire-ready candidates that employers need fairly quickly.

The CDL+ program is a 17-credit-hour certificate that can be completed in one semester. Students will have 160 hours of training, which prepares them to become a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holder. The program includes 121 hours of operating observation, 30 hours of behind-the-wheel skill development, an 8-week internship, an overview of logistics and transportation which includes all types of trucking operations including intermodal processes. There is also a focus on professionalism and customer service.


Employment Outlook is Good

For those who do decide to enter the transportation industry as a trucker, the employment outlook looks strong. 2020 did produce an industry contraction, but the longer-range projections from the American Trucking Associations show that freight volumes are expected to grow 36% between 2020 and 2031, meaning there will be plenty that needs hauling. Over 70% of the $650 billion in goods that move through Indiana every day are moved over the state’s highways.

Over that time period of freight growth, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new truckers to keep up with demand from the increased workload.


Unique Solution

To meet the state’s growing demand for truckers, Indiana has launched a first-ever curriculum to help target specific issues surrounding employment. It’s a creative solution that almost perfectly encapsulates the state’s willingness to work for business – finding or creating what it takes to enable success.



States Where Truckers Earn the Most Money

State, Average Annual Wage

  1. Nevada, $50,920
  2. Mississippi, $41,900
  3. Kentucky, $45,550
  4. Utah, $45,600
  5. South Carolina, $44,270
  6. Arizona, $45,430
  7. New Mexico, $44,460
  8. Indiana, $46,210

Source: Forbes, BLS


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Category Features, Logistics