CVTA gains approval for an apprenticeship program for truck drivers

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

The Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) had announced last month that it had received approval from the Department of Labor (DOL) to be listed as a National Standard Registered Apprenticeship Program meant for professional truck drivers. This development means that the CVTA member carriers can compete for apprenticeship grants and also fund the pre-commercial driver’s license (CDL) portion of related training instruction (RTI).

Back from the time of the Obama administration continuing into the current Trump government, there has been renewed interest in creating programs for industries that have traditionally been underserved in terms of apprenticeships. “The DOL has started looking towards its apprenticeship as a quasi-alternative to a four-year college degree and as a way to fill the key industries that are short of workers. The trucking industry is a natural fit for this,” said Don Lefeve, President & CEO at CVTA. “Employers seek qualified workers and what CVTA has been able to do is match employers with students who are coming out of commercial truck driving schools.”

Lefeve contended that apprenticeship was a more formalized way of going about what CVTA had been doing over the years, but it did prove to be particularly attractive to anyone who had served in the military, as they can draw down on some of the benefits that come with it to supplement the pay.

CVTA has schools at around 200 locations spread across the country, and they work with the local WIOA offices called One-Stop Centers. “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a program administered by the Department of Labor, where the money goes from the federal government out to the states, and 85% of the money is distributed to what are called the One Stop Centers,” said Lefeve. “So most of the One-Stop Centers are a good source of funding for many drivers coming into the industry. We estimate that probably on or around 10,000 drivers are funded due to WIOA.”

In order to get funded, it is critical to show that the job towards which the apprenticeship is directed is in an ‘in-demand’ industry, which is usually based on national or local data. However, getting accurate data has been a hassle. For example, a company that is based out of Ohio could hire people from Oklahoma or California, but the demand of jobs would not show up in these state data sets as the company in itself is not based out of Oklahoma or California.

“So a part of this is that we always urge for states to look at federal data because the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that there is a demand of truck drivers,” said Lefeve. “The takeaway is that the whole mechanism allows for individuals to come in and get the quality training that they need to go to the employers with. And it does get recognized by having registered apprenticeships from the U.S. Department of Labor. It signifies that this occupation is clearly in-demand and needs to be funded.”

The program helps with alleviating the trucker shortage problem, by funding people who do not have the means to pay for their training. Lefeve mentioned that some of the staff that he spoke with, believed that such programs help with retention as well.

The response to CVTA offering apprenticeship programs has been met with positive response from its members. “Right now, everybody is trying to figure out particulars and how to go forward on this. One of the challenges that we have is educating our own members on this very issue, just like we do with the general public,” said Lefeve.

CVTA collaborates with carrier companies for the apprenticeship program, who can sign up through the organization. For carriers with their own existing apprenticeship program, CVTA provides the option of opting-in on their standards if they choose to. Being a CVTA member essentially would mean that the company could partner with CVTA schools to help fund, recruit and retain drivers on their payroll.

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