Roadmaster to open new Mississippi training facility in effort to supply local driving demand

To help meet local and regional demand, Roadmaster Drivers School is opening a new full-time training facility in Jackson, Mississippi. (Courtesy: Roadmaster)

JACKSON, Miss. — Like other states, Mississippi suffered a population decline in 2020, losing a net of 11,000 residents. On the employment front, despite a slight recovery from economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest federal employment report shows that Mississippi lost 7,000 jobs in January.

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According to Brad Ball, president of the Roadmaster Drivers School, these declines mask a challenge: a national shortage of professional truck drivers. “There are people who need jobs, and jobs who need people,” said Ball.

The longstanding national truck driver shortage has recently worsened. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a shortfall of 65,700 drivers for 2020, compared with 2019. Meanwhile, e-commerce, driven by mandated stay-at-home orders, continue to skyrocket, increasing 44% in the U.S. in 2020. E-commerce growth is dependent on matching growth in retail logistics and delivery capability, requiring steadily increasing numbers of truckers.

On the local level, more than 85% of communities in Mississippi rely exclusively on trucks for the delivery of everyday goods. The state’s professional truck drivers travel more than 4.5 billion miles per year to deliver everything Mississippians communities rely on, including food, medication, clothing, and gasoline for their cars.

A career in trucking does not require college training. Applicants can either produce a high school diploma or pass a basic entrance exam. Unlike other opportunities for high-school graduates, such as fast food or retail, trucking offers secure employment, higher income and a career path, Ball said.

According to Ball, trucking is an increasingly diverse industry and one with no pay gap tied to race or gender. A recent American Trucking Association study shows that over 40% of U.S. truckers are now minorities.

Training is about four weeks from beginning to end. In comparison to other educational opportunities, truck driver training is less expensive. Ball said that the demand for new drivers is such that many trucking firms will reimburse students for tuition once hired.

A new Roadmaster Drivers School is set to open in May to address these concerns.

City officials, prospective students, and the general public are invited to the opening of the new Roadmaster Drivers School facility at 1500 West Highland Drive, Jackson, MS 39204.

The opening will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 14 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 15.

“Trucking is the opportunity on wheels for thousands of soon-to-be-hired truck drivers,” Ball said.

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  1. Does Mr. Ball tell perspective students that the truckload segment “enjoys” a 90 plus percent annual driver turnover rate? Are students advised of the fact that traditional concepts of overtime pay are non-existent with virtually all truckload carriers?

    Interesting that you mention the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following quotation from a 2019 BLS report: “The persistently high turnover presents TL(truckload)-segment managers, who employ between one-sixth and one-fourth of all heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with a real business problem: managing recruitment and retention when many individuals entering the occupation in this specific part of the trucking industry find the working conditions and earnings to be unattractive.”

    Four weeks of “training”? Every day I witness firsthand the quality and caliber of drivers you’re sending out here. It’s nothing short of shameful. I spent years perfecting my skills and judgment and even after 30+ years, I learn something every day because I care to learn and am cognizant of the fact that learning never ends! The same cannot be said for the steering wheel holders you people unleash upon our highways.

    Raise the compensation and benefits to a level where they are commensurate with the knowledge, skills and sacrifices required of the VOCATION, and demand better training and then watch how your so-called “driver shortage” disappears.

  2. Comparing trucking to “fast food and retail” speaks volumes as to how Mr. Ball and the industry as a whole view trucking.

    And I wonder why skill, knowledge and respect have all but disappeared from this business.


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