AVON, Ohio — Eduardo is a 4.0 GPA student getting his hands on the big rig wheel and his eyes on a high-tech career.
Leilani is a diesel technician aiming to drive over the road and encourage other women to enter the industry.
Javier was a struggling young man who sought to make better choices.
These young people are just three of the faces representing trucking’s bright future — and they took their first career steps at a California high school through a curriculum that the nonprofit Next Generation in Trucking Association (NGT) hopes to share nationwide.
To make more stories like theirs a reality and build a stronger tomorrow for trucking, Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America Inc. (KBGCNA) has awarded the Next Generation in Trucking Foundation a grant of $127,760. The Next Generation in Trucking Foundation supports NGT, and KBGCNA’s grant will enable NGT to develop a standardized truck driving curriculum that the association will make available at no cost to high schools starting truck driver training programs, according to a news release.
“KBGCNA is the U.S.-based arm of a philanthropic entity operated by Knorr-Bremse, based in Munich, Germany,” the news release notes. “Knorr-Bremse is the global market leader for braking systems and a leading supplier of other safety-critical rail and commercial vehicle systems. KBGCNA centers its investments on initiatives supporting youth, education and underprivileged populations.”
Avon, Ohio-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC is one of Knorr-Bremse’s three largest North American companies. It plays a key role in the trucking industry as the North American leader in the design, development and manufacture of active safety, air management and braking solutions for commercial vehicles. The company will also play an important role in the facilitation of the grant under the guidance of two Bendix directors who will serve as project co-champions.
“Trucking is an essential and dynamic industry, and Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America (KBGCNA) and Bendix enthusiastically support efforts that encourage young people to explore its potential and become a part of it,” Maria Gutierrez, KBGCNA president and senior director of environmental, social and governance (ESG) at Bendix, said. “KBGCNA also embraces the Next Generation in Trucking Association’s aim to reach high schools in areas where many students and families may be struggling economically. Education that results in gainful employment is our goal – to improve the lives of youth in need and to give them a chance to live an independent life. Trucking can be a lifeline of many sorts, and programs like this one have the ability to be life-changing for generations to come.”
A head start in trucking
Based in Prospect, Kentucky, NGT is a grassroots nonprofit trade association with the focus of raising awareness about trucking careers, as well as partnering with and creating high school trucking programs. Lindsey Trent, NGT’s co-founder and president, and Dave Dein, NGT’s co-founder and vice president, launched the organization in 2020.
A year later, the Next Generation in Trucking Foundation was established, growing out of NGT to partner with schools and to provide scholarships and educational resources to start trucking programs.
“Our industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of almost 80,000 drivers,” Trent said. “Considering the fact that 71.4% of all freight travels by truck in the United States, the average age of a new entrant truck driver is 35, and the average age of a truck driver is 54 years old, we need to step up and take action. That’s why NGT was created, to tap into the growing number of young people who do not want to go to college and who are seeking alternatives that can provide good careers with stable incomes.”
Eduardo, Leilani and Javier began their journeys into trucking at Patterson High School in Patterson, California, a Title 1 school where at least 40% of the students come from low-income households. In 2017, Dein, a teacher at Patterson, developed one of the country’s first professional truck driver training programs at the school to provide students with opportunities for high-wage, high-skill and high-demand jobs immediately after graduation.
In the wake of the success stories coming out of Patterson, NGT has met with more than 100 high schools interested in starting truck driver training courses. NGT has developed a five-year plan, with the first year seeing the curriculum written professionally — through KBGCNA’s support — so that every high school starting a truck driver training program can use it for free.
“We project that within the first year of having the curriculum written, 35 high schools will implement the CDL training course using it,” Trent said. “Additionally, in years two through five, we plan to work directly with Title 1 schools to create these programs, because we strongly believe that everyone is entitled to a quality education and economic opportunities.”
Delivering tools, talent to communities in need
NGT is collaborating with Education Development Center (EDC), an international education nonprofit based in Waltham, Massachusetts, to create a national, one-year, online, modular high school curriculum for a Commercial Learner’s Permit and Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) standards program. Tested and developed in the field, this program will integrate materials developed by Dein to support standards and career pathways within the national transportation, distribution, and logistics industry sector.
The experiential and inquiry-based modules will be available in an online course format designed for teachers to use in face-to-face, blended, or virtual environments. The curriculum, which will prepare high school students across the nation to successfully take the official test and obtain their permit once they turn 18, is scheduled to be available in September 2023.
“Developing this coursework is an on-ramp to establishing and delivering a skilled, diverse, and equitable workforce that meets the 21st-century needs of the industry,” Trent said. “Currently, there is no standardized high school curriculum for this content, so this program will help meet the need for career pathways into vital areas of transportation and logistics, greatly helping the trucking industry at large.”
When students complete the program, NGT will work with companies and drivers to help get them employed in the many intrastate jobs out there, until they are old enough to qualify for interstate driving.
“We’re grateful for the support of community-focused organizations like KBGCNA and industry leaders like Bendix, which will open up incredible opportunities for students, beginning in particular with those in schools serving economically disadvantaged communities,” Trent said.
According to Gutierrez, Bendix’s participation in the NGT project is a natural bookend for the company: Championing training for young people entering trucking complements the vital, wide-ranging support that Bendix offers for men and women already established in the industry — from in-person and online technical education to ride-along training sessions and other driver-focused efforts.
“This is a wonderful chance for us to be part of an outreach that connects with Bendix on so many levels,” Gutierrez said. “The promise of the Next Generation in Trucking Association is its power to change lives and families while also bringing bright and ambitious new colleagues into the amazing community of the commercial vehicle industry. No two roads are the same – but everyone deserves a journey that leads to a positive future.”
Read more about Eduardo, Leilani and Javier in their student spotlights at nextgentrucking.org.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.