Driving the next generation in trucking

The United States is facing a crisis in its supply chain. At a time when Americans are relying on quick and efficient delivery more than ever, our nation’s already struggling transportation system experiences even greater strain. More than 70% of freight in the U.S. travels by truck (Costello, 2019). And this problem threatens to slow our supply chain to a crawl. ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the industry will need to hire 1 million new drivers over the next 10 years.

Explore careers in trucking.

Careers in trucking present a unique opportunity for young people to enter the skilled workforce. According to Bruce Evans, executive vice president of talent analytics at Emsi, which provides labor market data to professional who specialize in workforce development, truck driver is the most posted job in the U.S.

Those who wish to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) must be 18 years old and must also pass an exam. Most people do this by attending a CDL course (lasting four to six weeks) at their local technical community college or a driving school.

The newly formed Next Generation in Trucking Association establishes high school programs to meet this huge need.

Only six high schools in the U.S. offer CDL driver programs. One of those can be found at Patterson High School in Patterson, California. The program, which was created in 2016 by teacher and former truck driver Dave Dein, has grown steadily over the last four years. Dein helped create Next Gen Trucking, which provides turn-key curriculum and partnerships for free and discounted resources. Next Gen also helps foster key partnerships for advisory boards and apprenticeship programs. Dein sees a true change is happening in his students.

Meet Javier

Javier was a student at Patterson High School. He had parents who loved him and a little brother that looked up to him, but he wasn’t succeeding in the traditional school programs offered to him. During his senior year, Javier learned of the CDL program. He enrolled, and he thrived.

Javier exemplifies the importance of career and technical education in high school.

And his brother? He just passed the CDL test!


The Patterson High School program was specifically designed to meet the needs of the digital generation.

Abundant use of technology and interactive, relatable lessons solidify student engagement. PHS incorporates the use of two state-of-the-art driving simulators built by Advanced Training Systems. Here, students learn not only the basics in operating a commercial motor vehicle in a safe environment, but receiving training on how to react in emergency situations, something that cannot be replicated using a real truck.

Additionally, PHS switched from a standard textbook to leverage digital, personalized environment to teach required federal standards. Since partnering with transportation curriculum provider Instructional Technologies, Dein has seen an increase in student retention levels.

Students are trained in the proper way to perform industry-specific body movements, to prevent workplace injuries, using an online program called Worklete. Students interact through the use of real-world applications and practice movements throughout the week to create muscle memory.

The PHS program has grown from teaching the basics to providing a comprehensive overview of the trucking industry. Students explore technological and safety advances that are changing the landscape of the industry.

What’s next?

With comprehensive curriculum and a program in place, the next step for trucking is its own CTE pathway. The plan will be to begin working with students in their sophomore year, offering a basic Class C driving class with an emphasis on trucking. Juniors would learn the basic operation of a truck, involving how to shift a 10-speed transmission and proper identification of vehicle parts. As seniors, students not only elevate and perfect their skills, but would also take on a leadership role in assisting in the training of the underclassmen.

Truck driving falls under the warehousing and logistics career pathway in California. Elsewhere, relevant career pathways include heavy equipment, construction or diesel mechanics. These are all professions in which a CDL is an asset or required. Students with a CDL will be highly marketable and ready to begin an in-demand career in trucking.

CTE programs in trucking must continue to grow so that the items you depend on arrive on time. We face an obstacle with nationwide implications, and the trucking industry is ready to partner with career and technical education programs to fill a pipeline of qualified drivers. Learn more.

Lindsey Trent works for Ryder. She also serves on the board of the Kentucky Trucking Association, Fairdale High School Advisory Board and started the Next Generation in Trucking Association.  She resides in Kentucky with her husband and two kids and loves to golf, travel and read.

Dave Dein has served in public education for the last 22 years while simultaneously pursuing his passion for trucking.  He has accumulated more than 700,000 safe driving miles. Dein is also the founder of Faith Logistics, an outreach truck driving school that trained rehabilitated inmates. In his free time he enjoys long distance backpacking in search of his next adventure. Contact them.