PTDI Certification Benefits Programs Facing Changes in a Technological Age
Alexandria, Virginia – As technology changes the face of the truck driving industry, programs offering courses certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) are reaping the benefits, according to driver training program administrators from Wisconsin to North Carolina.
“The dynamics of individuals seeking jobs has changed,” said Robert Behnke, department chair, Commercial Vehicle Education, at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc. “I see people choosing this as a career path who are more technologically savvy, but they don’t have a specific background in trucking, nor have they even grown up in the farm industry and been around big vehicles. We’re seeing folks from different backgrounds—accountants, doctors, and lawyers—coming into the industry because they’ve seen a tremendous amount of change in what they were doing and they are looking for a career change. Companies want to be assured that these people have specific truck driver training. I believe PTDI has played a part in that, because when it comes down to companies asking about training, safety is always number one.”
Kim Carsten, school director for Commercial Driver Training in West Babylon, N.Y., has also seen a change in the background of her students in recent years. “I’ve seen financial people, people from Wall Street, from the computer technology field, coming to our program,” Carsten said. “They need jobs, and they see from the advertisements that there is always a need for CDL drivers and that these are good paying jobs for entry-level drivers.”
And the fact that students are more technologically savvy only benefits programs with PTDI certification, as Carsten pointed out. “In the past three years, I have seen an increase in the number of students who know about PTDI, and much of that is a result of their Internet research and the fact that motor carriers mention PTDI on their web site,” she said.
“A lot of our students do research the PTDI web site themselves and when they complete our critique at the end of our program, they say they came here because of PTDI. Students definitely have become savvy about industry standards, and about the industry in general, because of the Internet.”
Rudy Fox, director of truck driver training for Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, which received PTDI course recertification at two locations and initial certification at a third, has noted similar interest in his programs. “Definitely, the economy has led more people to the trucking industry. Some are changing careers not by choice but because they’ve lost their jobs. We’re seeing that especially in our area in North Carolina where the industry is textiles and furniture, and that industry’s almost gone, so with unemployment here close to 10 percent, people have turned to trucking. Companies are seeking us out because they know we’re giving our students quality training. We have more recruiters now than we ever have in the past few years because of PTDI. Our reputation has grown quite well in western North Carolina; all the major trucking companies recognize our program, and one of the reasons is the PTDI certification.”
Insurance companies as well are recognizing the significance of PTDI certification. “A lot of insurance companies, from what I understand, recommend that trucking companies hire students from PTDI programs,” Fox said. “Most trucking companies are greatly influenced by insurance companies, so they can’t hire student drivers that don’t have quality training.”
Although Behnke said it may seem “unrealistic for someone to make that type of career change, especially later in life,” he believes “the industry is turning a corner with positive changes and more emphasis on the trucking industry’s image. I think there are a lot of great changes coming our way as people look at the trucking industry as more of a career than just a job.”
Carsten, who has been with Commercial Driver Training for 28 years, adds, “I definitely think that PTDI’s making a difference in the type of drivers we’re putting on the road.”
The six truck driver training programs that recently received recertification are Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson and Hickory, N.C.; Commercial Driver Training Inc., in West Babylon, N.Y.; Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown, Del.; Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisc.; and Lebanon County Career School in Lebanon, Pa. Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Dallas, N.C., received initial course certification.