Northeastern High School has started a new course to educate students about the transportation industry. The DRIVE class was created by teacher Chad Forry to help prepare students to earn their CDL permits and explore the opportunities of the trucking and transportation industry. Mr. Forry is a driver education teacher at Northeastern High School. The district is made up of Manchester, Mount Wolf, and York Haven Boroughs and Conewago, East Manchester, and Newberry Townships all in York County. The district is in a prime location for shipping and warehousing near Interstate 83, 76, and 81, the main transportation lifelines in Central Pennsylvania.
According to the American Trucking Association, the average truck driver’s age is 49, and the industry experienced a shortage of over 50,000 drivers at the end of 2017. These numbers are projected to double by the end of 2021. Companies are paying more to attract qualified drivers by offering sign-on bonuses and upgrading their fleets with newer vehicles. However, we must have sufficient numbers of qualified applicants in the employment pool to meet the demand. The DRIVE class works to support that need by exposing young people to this viable and growing employment opportunity.
Mr. Forry believes that if we invest in young people, we will realize enormous dividends. Many students want to work, but they struggle to find a career avenue. Traditional four-year college often comes with significant debt and no guarantee of employment after graduating. Many first jobs at restaurants and gas stations offer little chance of advancement or opportunity to develop transferable skills. The DRIVE elective class gives students many choices on how they can use their Commercial Driver’s license, from over-the-road to construction. Mr. Forry also believes young people need an opportunity to join the transportation industry. During the class, local companies were asked to address the students about their organizational, pay ranges, safety protocols, and special endorsements or skills needed by the company. Mr. Forry also took a class field trip to a few local companies to give the students a first-hand look at what jobs and options they have after high school. One student from the class has already been hired and is working full-time for one of the LTL companies that visited the class. Next year, Mr. Forry wants to build partnerships with companies to create internships for students. High school students and young adults need something rewarding to do in the transportation industry to stay connected and feel important. If companies wait until age 21 to recruit and invest in employees, they are losing many motivated and valuable people that could have helped make their company great.