FleetForce announced Tuesday it was expanding with six new commercial driver testing and training facilities in Florida – with operations set to begin as early as March.
The program will generate over 3,000 new commercial truck drivers annually, the company said, from its new facilities in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Niceville, Daytona Beach, Ocala, and New Port Richey. The six facilities join FleetForce’s other two sites in development in Lake City and Gainesville, expected to open later this year.
FleetForce said the new sites would allow drivers to undergo licensing in as little as four weeks. The expansion, the company said, was aimed at addressing the growing industry need and helping to add drivers to overwhelmed supply chains.
“Truck driving remains at the core of our country’s economic abilities, and we see evidence of the growing need for new drivers every day,” said FleetForce owner Tra Williams. “We’re excited to show what can be done to meet this tremendous need. Thanks to our new locations, there’ll soon be an influx of highly trained professional drivers on the road. That’s going to be a huge help to Florida industries, in addition to the U.S. supply chain and economy.”
While COVID-19 exacerbated supply chain issues, the company said, the need for new truck drivers has been increasing for some time. A 2019 analysis from the American Trucking Association found that the shortage of truck drivers has grown exponentially since 2016. In 2011, fewer than 10,000 new drivers were needed, but that shortage blossomed to 60,800 by 2018. Current industry trends project that the industry will need 1.1 million new drivers in the next five years.
“Recruiting and retaining the next generation of professional truck drivers requires a paradigm shift—a change from the old model,” said Alix Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Trucking Association. “The success of FleetForce is a direct reflection of improving accessibility, efficiency and promoting a new image of trucking for students. And with these new locations opening around Florida, trucking companies will have more local access to new, well-trained talent, further bolstering our workforce and the economy of Florida.”