As logistics labor challenges go, finding truck drivers is among the toughest nuts to crack these days. The latest numbers from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) show the nation is short about 80,000 drivers, so it’s probably no surprise that companies are sharpening their focus on getting more people behind the wheel.
One of the nation’s largest retailers recently expanded a pilot program aimed at doing just that. Walmart is extending its private fleet development program, a driver-training initiative launched last year in Delaware and Texas, to associates working in its stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers, and transportation offices across the country. Employees working within 50 miles of a Walmart transportation office can now apply for the associate-to-driver program, a 12-week training course through which they can earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and a job as a full-fledged Walmart driver.The retailer, which wants to increase its corps of 13,000 drivers, expects to add 200 through the training program this year alone, according to Jennifer McKeehan, senior vice president for end-to-end delivery at Walmart. Speaking at an industry conference in Atlanta earlier this year, McKeehan called the program “a big investment that has paid off,” noting that the retailer already has a waiting list of associates who want in on the training. Earning potential is a big draw: Walmart raised drivers’ wages in 2022, with first-year drivers now earning up to $110,000 annually.
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