Logistics and transportation: Natural partners

A military force will not survive long if it extends beyond the reach of its supply chain. Likewise, transportation is the lynchpin for all material goods, and very few business models are able to flourish without a solid transportation plan to deliver raw materials and finished products.

Therefore, today’s professional commercial driver is a customer-delivery specialist. Each driver is the face seen daily by the customer and represents customer-service results at the point of delivery.

The modern professional driver must be results-driven, a problem-solver and one who welcomes change. He or she must always seek continuous improvement and increased efficiency. Each driver must be able to fully multitask, doing a mix of driving skills and people skills. Simultaneously, the same driver must practice a full regimen of safety-oriented principles to mitigate risks and neutralize threats to achieving positive results.

The demand for drivers will continue to outpace supply for the foreseeable future, here in the Crossroads region and worldwide. Professional driving is a career with unlimited potential for exciting opportunities and excellent compensation. However, the lifestyle can be a challenge, requiring families to make significant sacrifices and adjustments to the hardships that accompany a demanding career field.

But then again, employers are currently unable to fill their trucks with qualified drivers. They are creating incentives and increasing compensation to better position themselves for the intensely competitive recruiting environment found in today’s global economy. All employers are competing for the same limited pool of available talent. This creates a “candidate’s market,” in which newly minted drivers might choose multiple potential employers before closing the deal that best matches their wants and needs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is enacting a new regulation requiring that all new driver candidates complete an approved driver-training program prior to being allowed to test for their commercial license. This requirement is intended to create a minimum level of competency in all candidates. The commercial-vehicle transportation program at any accredited training institution is well positioned to provide training for students entering a transportation career. Some institutions also provide course curriculum leading to a certificate or an Associate in Applied Science in transportation administration and transportation management.

Employers in the vicinity of the logistics corridor Interstates 70 and 81 are scrambling to attract well-qualified candidates to fill their transportation-oriented career positions. These are highly demanding and well-compensated opportunities, which require a diverse pool of candidates encompassing all genders, races and ethnicities. Accredited CDL training institutions have an inherent obligation to students and employers to create an inclusive environment allowing all students to excel. The school must also embrace the value of all student backgrounds and aptitudes.

A win-win formula for a great training program leads by establishing solid partnerships with all transportation and logistics industry components in the quad-state area, and jointly works to meet the growing demand for trained and qualified, career-minded and team-oriented employees.

The driving school must graduate students who are well equipped to enter company training programs and learn the company’s business model and best practices.

The driving school absolutely must groom students to demonstrate a professional work ethic, along with strong character traits and cultural values needed in the logistics career field.

Many companies are transitioning their fleets to operate trucks with automatic transmissions. This improves fuel economy, reduces costs and results in fewer crashes because drivers have fewer tasks to manage during daily operations.

Many schools are training students to drive Volvo trucks equipped with Eaton-Fuller 10-speed transmissions. This training enables graduates to safely operate all fleet vehicles and places no restriction for “automatic only” on their CDL license.

The Crossroads area stands ready to meet the needs of the high-growth demand forecast for the transportation industry. Education and industry partnering represents a course of action to guarantee success for students and employers.

Graduates of local driving-school and management programs can stay close and go far in the transportation and logistics industry.

Mike Stevenson is the CVT program coordinator at Hagerstown Community College. He can be reached at mjstevenson@hagerstowncc.edu or 301-491-9808.