Three days before Christmas, six student drivers graduated from a Yellow driving academy in South Bend, Indiana.
With the graduates’ achievement, the LTL carrier surpassed its goal to welcome 1,000 graduates by the end of 2022, the company announced last week.
“This is an enormous accomplishment for our company that involved hard work and tremendous dedication from our students, instructors and safety trainers across the country,” Darren Hawkins, CEO of Yellow, said in a statement.
In recent years, Yellow and others in the industry have used earn-to-learn training, apprenticeships and other creative solutions to bolster the driver pipeline.
The number of unfilled driver jobs in the industry decreased by about 4% from a record high in 2021, the American Trucking Associations estimated in October, saying the shortage remains the second-highest on record.
Driver recruitment and retention — already a challenge for fleets in a worker’s market — has only become more complicated as demand has slowed. Yellow did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about its recruitment goals for 2023. The company has an earnings call scheduled for February.
Yellow’s strategy is built on its privately operated academies, in which it has invested heavily to grow its driver force. The company employs about 850 certified safety trainers across its network of 21 academies, located in 16 states.
“Operating our own academies not only ensures that we have the most qualified and skilled drivers on the road,” Hawkins said in a statement, “it also helps address a shortage of professional drivers across the nation.”