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How Holland’s Dock-to-Driver program sets trainees up for success

( Image Courtesy of Holland ) 

The transportation industry continues to react to the driver shortage, and carrier-created training programs are on the rise. One such program is offered by Holland, a regional carrier based in Holland, Michigan. FreightWaves spoke to Tamara Jalving, Director of Talent Acquisition for Holland to learn about the recent expansions to their Dock-to-Driver apprentice program.

An emphasis on quality training is nothing new for the carrier: “Holland has always invested in driver training – safe driving is paramount and we’ve been able to train to that largely through mentoring and video-based solutions,” Jalving explained. In early to mid-2017, Holland began evaluate how training new drivers could help to address their driver shortage.

“Part of the solution quickly became to build our own talent pool. We evaluated our processes and materials and quickly expanded skill training from one terminal in Indianapolis to 16 in 2017. Our goal was to create a solid program with repeatable performance and eventually certify it through the Department of Labor as a formal apprentice program”, said Jalving. This certification was achieved in December 2017 and Holland has been growing the program ever since. 

“The Dock-to-Driver program lasts a full year with the first 6 months focused on knowledge and skill development. We give people the experience to work on the dock, to drive at a CDL school to learn the basics, and we also give them the opportunity to work with a driver instructor to fill the gap between the basics and the LTL industry,” said Rocky Whaley, manager of Holland’s driving programs.

From the beginning of the program, new trainees are paid, full-time dock employees learning about everything from freight movement, safety, and the company itself. Trainees then begin classes to receive their CDL, either through a CDL school or a community college.

“There’s a lot of people who lack career direction. Someone can start at $11.90 per hour as a dock employee and 6 months later, be fully trained earning $60,000 or more; and these jobs continue to be in demand,” said Jalving.

As far as expansion goes, Holland’s apprenticeship program is growing by leaps and bounds. They’re currently offering the training in 30 out of their 53 terminal locations–expecting to reach 36 terminals by the end of 2018. Part of its success lies in the details: “we are able to market this program as an apprenticeship and also partner with the Veterans Administration to provide opportunities for transitioning veterans to utilize their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits,” Holland explained.

Although programs like Holland’s Dock-to-Driver training are gaining traction, they can’t succeed without the right support. “A program like this really does require full commitment: from the company, the leadership, and the union. Just as important is the commitment from our seasoned drivers. They’re the ones that are helping to shape the next generation of drivers that we desperately need. We have drivers who take the time to promote the profession and quality, safe driving. They’re a critical part of the success of the program and the future of the industry,” Jalving concluded.

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