Winter Haven-based FleetForce Truck Driving School has announced plans to open two new training centers, one in Fort Myers and the other in Venice.
FleetForce currently operates driver training schools in Winter Haven, Palm City and at the State College of Florida’s Bradenton Campus, Manatee-Sarasota. The new Venice location will expand the partnership between FleetForce and SCF, according to a statement.
FleetForce President Tra Williams joined trucking industry leaders at an event in Bradenton last week to announce the two new locations and celebrate the success of a newly launched pre-employment program designed to recruit more drivers.
“If we are serious about addressing the growing shortage of truck drivers, we need to be innovative and create a new model for recruiting and training drivers,” Williams said in the statement. “Drivers are retiring faster than we are replacing them, and we have to be prepared to do things differently if we want to attract people to the trucking industry. This collaboration is a big step in the right direction.
The program — a partnership between FleetForce, the Florida Trucking Association, the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and several trucking companies — removes the financial barrier for people who want to attend driving school, the statement said. FTA member trucking companies pay tuition up front, with an agreement to hire the student once they complete the course and receive their CDL.
“The image of the trucking industry is changing, and the way we recruit professional truck drivers must reflect that change,” said Alix Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association, in the release. . “The pre-employment program opens doors by breaking down barriers for those who may not have considered a career in trucking — and it has already proven to be a huge success. since the program was launched, approximately 5,000 aspiring drivers have applied.