Driver Apprenticeship

SDAP Applications Now Being Accepted

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot (SDAP) Program is a program established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on behalf of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. SDAP provides opportunities for younger truck drivers who hold a state-issued CDL to receive on-the-job training while operating trucks across state lines.

Previously, interstate driving was limited to trucking professionals 21 and over, but the SDAP initiative has been put in place to open up new opportunities and reduce the effects of the ongoing driver shortage. Although the goal of the pilot program is to see whether apprenticeship can be effective in safely preparing new drivers for future service, it may also help to reduce shortages in the present.

Applications Accepted by FMCSA

As of July 2022, FMCSA is now accepting applications to the three-year SDAP program. In order to apply, interested trucking companies will need to meet a few requirements, including being registered with the U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program. Additionally, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the requirements laid out in the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program Federal Register Notice.

The SDAP Program provides opportunities for drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. These drivers will need to be partnered with experienced drivers who will assist in training apprentices, and training drivers will need to be over the age of 26. Additionally, trainers will need to have at least five years of commercial motor vehicle experience.

Solving the Driver Shortage

If you work in the trucking industry, you understand that drivers, fleet managers, logistics professionals and other team members are simply everyday people who have a passion for serving others. This realization probably hit home more intimately in the wake of the supply chain chaos following the Covid-19 pandemic.

During these times, social media has really been a way for people to see the true face of the heroes of trucking as they worked tirelessly to overcome challenges and restore order during a time of uncertainty. Even as the pandemic’s supply chain issues are finally getting ironed out little bits at a time, social media has given the trucking industry a huge opportunity to sell its charm to the public and convince a new generation of trucking professionals to join the fray.

Trucking’s Image and the Future

The SDAP Program is only one small part of solving the current driver shortage. Other efforts include reaching out to under-represented communities in the trucking industry as well as increasing pay, benefits and the use of technology in trucking jobs.

Currently, the pilot phase of the SDAP Program only provides opportunities for up to 3,000 drivers. This falls short of the tens of thousands of drivers needed in the coming years to resolve shortages across the industry. Despite not completely solving the ongoing shortage, experts believe that the SDAP Program is a step in the right direction and that trucking companies that are struggling to fill roles would be wise to take advantage of the pilot program.


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