For many years, industry leaders have been discussing the ongoing driver shortage, the image of the industry, and the need to get new, young, qualified drivers behind the wheel. For Lindsey Trent, Founder of the Next Generation in Trucking Association (NGTA), it was finally time to move from discussion to action.
In the newest episode of DriverReach Chats, Lindsey sat down with DriverReach CEO Jeremy Reymer to talk about NGTA, the close-knit trucking industry, and their goals for 2021.
Introducing the Next Generation in Trucking Association
While the nonprofit organization may just be picking up steam in early 2021, the idea for NGTA has been around for many years. The NGTA is a nonprofit trade association with a focus to create and promote CDL driver and technician programs in high schools, community colleges, and technical schools across the country. In addition to providing resources and support for these programs, the Association is also looking to change the image of trucking across the board.
“After years of going around to conferences and meetings, it became apparent that there is a huge shortage of new, younger-generation drivers in trucking,” Lindsey says in her conversation with Jeremy. “We were part of multiple conversations about the different ideas and solutions in place, and so the question became ‘What can we do as an industry if we put our minds together towards the mission of creating next-generation drivers and industry leaders?’.”
From these first few conversations, the idea came together to build a nation-wide education program to get young people involved in trucking and from there the grassroots effort took off naturally. Lindsey met with Jeremy at a conference who then introduced her to a teacher who had developed a high school CDL training programl. Together, the group has created a turnkey program for high schools. Now, all a school has to do is sign up and they can start training students to get their CDL.
The rise of the NGTA comes at the perfect time for the trucking industry, which has been suffering greatly from a driver shortage for over a decade. According to Lindsey, one key benefit of truck driving for this younger generation is the potential of a long-term, fulfilling career without the need for student loan debt.
“Many students don’t realize they can have a fulfilling, rewarding career in trucking without going into debt,” Lindsey says. “You can make a great living being a diesel technician or driver, but you don’t have to stop there. After a few years on the road, you can go into HR or operations or management or even own your own truck or garage. The sky really is the limit for those looking to get involved.”
The tight-knit CDL trucking industry
Lindsey and Jeremy have known each other for nearly a decade, and both have a strong fondness for the tight-knight CDL trucking industry they’ve grown up in. For being such a large, essential industry, the people are very personable, and everyone looks out for each other.
It’s this fondness for the industry that has made Lindsey even more passionate about the mission of the NGTA. The industry is at a turning point, Lindsey says, and if new drivers don’t start coming on board the entire industry will be in dire straits. While every state treats CDL training and licensing differently, the NGTA is working with other industry leaders (such as those in construction, welding, engineering, etc.) to see how CDL trucking can break into the career/technical education space. The driver shortage isn’t going anywhere, and now is the time to ramp up education before the industry falls too far behind.
The Association goals for 2021
While most of 2020 was spent building the organization, coming up with a plan, mission, goals, and objectives, 2021 will see the launch of three pilot programs at high schools across the state of Kentucky. The pilot programs are set up at career/technical high schools where they already have the resources and knowledge needed to get this kind of program off the ground. Moving forward, Lindsey and the NGTA is hoping to get more training programs off the ground at both career/technical high schools and more traditional schools.
In addition, the larger goal of the Association is to continue to raise awareness around CDL driving as a career opportunity and to educate potential drivers on the different career paths available. The entire NGTA organization is run by volunteers who are passionate about growing the industry and educating young people, so there are only good things to come in 2021 and beyond.
Want to learn more about the Next Generation in Trucking Association?
The organization is currently looking for partners, founding sponsors, and school liaisons across the country to support their education efforts.
Visit www.nextgentruckers.org to learn more or email email@example.com to contact Lindsey directly and get started bringing a CDL driver or diesel technician program to your technical high school.
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