The expanded training program at Holland, a regional less-than-truckload transportation provider, is chipping away at the driver shortage problem by training veterans to become professional, full-time truckers.
The company, based in Holland, Mich., has partnered with the federal departments of Labor and Veterans Affairs to offer former members of the military training in the trucking industry as they integrate back into civilian life.
Aside from paid training, eligible veterans also can receive their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds while completing the apprenticeship.
“Veterans, certainly we’re interested in, because they’ve already got the quality we’re looking for in any of our employees,” said Tamara Jalving, director of talent acquisition at Holland. “The focus, the discipline, the critical thinking skills ... we’re definitely interested in that pool of candidates coming into the program.”
Holland received grant funds for $40,000 to support the training program from Fastport, a veteran employment software company with a mission to connect veterans to career opportunities. The funds were approved at the end of 2017 when Holland received Department of Labor apprenticeship certification.
Veterans who do not have a commercial driver license will enter the Dock-to-Driver Program to complete training and have professional mentorship. Those who already have their CDL but have not met mileage requirements or earned proper endorsements will work with industry professionals to learn and complete these objectives.
Veterans who qualify for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill can receive up to $24,000 in tax-free benefits in addition to their Holland pay. They must be Holland employees to join the apprenticeship and receive VA educational benefits.
Jalving said CDL training programs are just a part of the solution to the driver shortage problem.
“We’re really trying to market driving opportunities as viable career options to men, to women, to veterans and to the emerging workforce,” she said. “Changing the perception of trucking is critical to solving the shortage problem that we all know we’re faced with.”
Potential laws also could impact the driver shortage program. Earlier this month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced details of a pilot program that would allow people with military experience who are between ages 18 and 21 to drive trucks interstate. According to Jalving, these developing policies will “no doubt” impact the next generation.
“It’s truly a privilege for us to offer veterans a career transition that allows them to continue serving the country in a new capacity,” said Steve Bramble, corporate recruiting manager.
The driver training program is available in 51 of Holland’s 53 locations, and the Dock-to-Driver program is available in 26 locations.
Holland provides next-day delivery throughout the Midwest, Central and Southeastern United States, and parts of Canada. It operates 58 service centers and employs more than 8,500 people.