U.S. Xpress announced Monday it is hosting the Region 6 Conference for the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools (NAPFTDS) at its corporate headquarters in Chattanooga, Tenn. The conference, which is set for Oct. 1-2, will bring together leading experts in the trucking industry and representatives from various publicly-funded schools in seven states to discuss the latest trends in the trucking industry as well as share insights into the lessons and techniques being taught at their community colleges and truck driving schools.
“Truck drivers are the backbone of our economy as they deliver nearly 70 percent of the total amount of freight transported in the U.S. every year,” said Eric Fuller, Chief Operating Officer for U.S. Xpress. “We are honored to host this annual conference that will help facilitate important discussions between some of the leading experts in the trucking industry and various publicly-funded schools that are working together to prepare students to fill the current and future needs of our industry.”
The two-day conference will open with a panel discussion featuring Eric Fuller; Martin Garsee, president of NAPFTDS and director of Houston Community College; James D. King, vice vhancellor for the Tennessee Technology Centers; and Dr. James Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State Community College. Following this panel discussion, Chris Burruss, president of Truckload Carriers Association, will give a presentation to introduce a new National Professional Drivers Program to conference attendees.
Mr. Fuller said, “Our industry continues to face challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified truck drivers, and this conference plays a critical role in helping these schools fully understand the changing dynamics of the trucking industry as well as provide them with opportunities where they can collaborate with each other on curriculum and methodology issues.”
According to officials with U.S. Xpress, several industry analyst reports project the current shortage of truck drivers at 130,000 nationally and will increase each year due to a large number of upcoming retirements and the need for additional drivers to haul more goods as the economy starts to recover.
“As our country continues to face record unemployment levels, the trucking industry has a critical need for new people to join our workforce. We have an abundance of career opportunities where people can become a truck driver and make a very competitive salary with complete benefits and retirement plans,” said Mr. Fuller. “Not only does the trucking industry provide jobs for company drivers, but we also provide a wide variety of other career opportunities for professional drivers. And, this is one of the few industries where people can easily start a business as an independent truck contractor and own their truck after just three years with lease-purchase programs.”
The NAPFTDS conference also includes other breakout sessions with speakers discussing regulatory issues facing the trucking industry and issues affecting the recruitment and retention of truck drivers; the growth of the oil and gas industry and its impact to the trucking industry; and the latest information on Workforce Investment Act grants, driver certification programs, safety and training policies, and new technologies for truck drivers.
In addition to U.S. Xpress, the Tennessee Technology Center is helping to host the Region 6 NAPFTDS conference.