Truck driving program receives automatic semi donation from FedEx Freight

Truck driving program receives automatic semi donation from FedEx Freight

Sun Sep 12, 2021 at 01:08 PM

Northark Truck Driving Instructor Charlie Duggan, left, and Northark Technical Center Director Scott Howie, center, pose with Josh Marshall, manager of Transportation for FedEx Freight, in front of an automatic semi-truck FedEx Freight donated to Northark’s truck driving program.

The North Arkansas College truck driving program has new options for students thanks to a donation from FedEx Freight. FedEx Freight donated a 2007 Volvo automatic transmission semi to Northark’s program, which until this latest donation only had manual transmission trucks in its fleet.

“FedEx Freight is proud to provide this donation and support Northark’s program to train the next generation of drivers,” said Josh Marshall, manager of transportation for FedEx Freight. “We’re not only investing in their education but also future careers, and believe this contribution is one way we can increase people’s interest in joining the trucking profession.”

Northark Truck Driving Instructor Charlie Duggan said the donation is important because some students are hesitant to sign up for the truck driving program because they do not know how to drive a truck with a manual transmission.

“This opens up another avenue for people that are intimidated by the 10-speed,” he said.

Duggan added students will be able to train on the automatic truck while also learning how to use a standard truck.

Northark Technical Center Director Scott Howie said if a student can’t competently drive a standard truck, he or she can still get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with an automatic restriction.

“This allows students that aren’t comfortable with signing up for the program because they have never driven standard trucks and gives them the ability to sign up for the program,” he said.

Duggan said the need was identified after an advisory council meeting with area businesses. The council suggests ways to improve programs that lead to students having successful careers once they graduate. The council noted the need for an automatic truck and FedEx Freight stepped in to help. Duggan noted there are a lot of automatic trucks on the roads.

“The industry is going the way of automatics because the technology has improved,” he said. “A lot of sizeable companies are going to all automatics.”

Northark’s trucking program consists of five weeks of classroom and training time and 10 weeks of an internship with area trucking companies. Duggan said once a student graduates and gets a job driving, he or she could earn a salary of $50,000 to $70,000 per year depending on how much travel is involved.

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