The Sticky Wicket of Truck Driver Training

The Sticky Wicket of Truck Driver Training
September 20 08:46 2017 Print This Article

The British have a phrase – sticky wicket – to describe an especially difficult circumstance. The phrase comes from the game of cricket, where the wicket is a part of the playing field where much of the game’s action takes place. We have our own sticky wickets, including the especially difficult circumstance new truck drivers face in terms of training and getting that first job.

The idea of driving a truck for a living can be attractive when you see a newspaper ad offering free or virtually free training that can have a driver licensed and ready for work in a matter of weeks. While there are plenty of good training programs out there that live up to advertised claims, there are others that do not. New drivers who make the decision to go with the wrong company can find themselves in a precarious position as a result.

Experienced Drivers Only

Imagine going to college to get a four-year degree only to find that you cannot get a job after graduation because all the employers in your industry hire experienced people only. A lot of truckers who go through training at independent schools face that very problem. Trucking companies want experienced drivers, for obvious reasons, but those fresh off CDL training cannot get the experience they need if they can’t find a job.

New drivers who want to focus on flatbed driving find life especially difficult. Not only do they lack driving experience, but they also lack experience with cargo control. They have never tied down a load of coil with heavy-duty chains. They have never secured a load of lumber with a ratchet straps. They have never battled the wind and rain to cover cargo with tarps. Finding a job without such experience is rather difficult.

So, what is the solution? For many, it is to seek out training through a trucking company that operates its own schools. Such schools abound according to Ohio-based Mytee Products, a supplier of cargo control equipment to the trucking industry. Still, even company paid training is not without its pitfalls.

Signing a Contract to Work

Trucking companies that operate their own CDL schools don’t do so out of the kindness of their hearts. Trucking is a business, and investing in a CDL school is part of a company’s business spend. They offer free training while expecting something in return.

The general rule of thumb is that new drivers must sign a contract to work for the company providing the training in order to receive that training either free or at minimal cost. Contracts run from 8 to 12 months on average. All is well for the new driver just as long as he or she has no problem fulfilling the contract. But breaking a contract and moving to a different carrier could leave a new driver with thousands of dollars in debt.

You cannot blame trucking companies for sending tuition bills to students who did not fulfill their contracts. Companies invest a lot of time and money in training, and it is something they should not be expected to give away for free. But from the perspective of the new driver, it is easy to think trucking will be a great career choice only to have a change of heart a few weeks into training. It’s equally easy to decide that the company providing the training is not necessarily a good employment opportunity.

New truck drivers often find themselves facing a rather sticky wicket. Those who manage to navigate past it go on to succeed as career truckers. Those, who don’t have to deal with the aftermath.

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Andrew Williams
Andrew Williams

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