Lindsey Trent: Driving the Future in Trucking Education and Workforce Development

Lindsey Trent

In the vast world of trucking, where the roar of engines and the rhythm of the open road are constants, there exists a driving force of change – Lindsey Trent. As the Co-founder and President of the Next Generation in Trucking Association, a non-profit trade association with a mission to revolutionize the trucking industry, Lindsey is on a mission to transform the perception of trucking and create a skilled, diverse and equitable workforce for the future.

Lindsey’s journey into the trucking industry began when she started working in truck driver staffing, where she developed a deep appreciation for the industry’s vast employment needs. She continued to expand her expertise by working in business and customer development for Ryder, a prominent player in supply chain solutions across North America. Her experience spans various facets of the industry, from professional drivers and technicians to equipment maintenance and warehousing, as well as leadership roles. Lindsey’s extensive knowledge, network, and problem-solving abilities have made her a valuable asset in the industry.

One of Lindsey’s driving passions is introducing young individuals to the trucking industry and the myriad opportunities it offers. Her dedication has led to groundbreaking initiatives that establish education-industry partnerships, ultimately contributing to the development of a skilled, diverse, and equitable workforce in trucking.

Lindsey’s commitment to the industry is further exemplified by her involvement on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Trucking Association and her advisory role on the Fairdale High School Advisory Board, where she played a pivotal role in initiating the Diesel Technician program.

Lindsey holds a degree from Purdue University and resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and two children. Outside of her professional pursuits, she enjoys activities such as working out, golfing, traveling, reading and cherishing quality time with her family.

Connecting with the Next Generation

The official mission of the Next Generation in Trucking Association is to promote trucking as an appealing career choice, collaborate with career technical education (CTE) programs in both secondary and postsecondary institutions, and encourage the training and development of young individuals in the trucking industry by facilitating connections to training and job opportunities. Lindsey firmly believes that the time is ripe for the trucking industry to engage with young people.

To achieve this, she advocates for early engagement efforts, such as organizing Touch a Truck events for elementary school children, allowing them to experience sitting in the cab of a truck. Furthermore, she emphasizes the importance of introducing career exploration classes in middle schools and assisting high schools in establishing trucking-related programs, encompassing areas like supply chain and logistics, medium/heavy-duty truck technology, and commercial driving.

She points out that schools are now receiving federal funding to initiate Career Technical Education programs, and by engaging with them early on, the trucking industry can shape the decisions of young individuals and ensure that trucking becomes an integral part of their educational journey. The key to addressing workforce shortages lies in connecting with Generation Z today, primarily by engaging with them within the school environment, where they are actively pursuing their education and career paths.

To make a significant impact, Lindsey calls on companies that support the supply chain to collaborate with the Next Generation in Trucking Association, either through association membership or contributions to the foundation.

This partnership is crucial to tackling the workforce challenges that the industry faces, and it begins by meeting and engaging with young individuals where they are most receptive—in schools.

Accepting the Change

Lindsey emphasizes the importance of embracing change, particularly in an industry like trucking where change is inevitable, especially due to technological advancements. The Next Generation in Trucking Association recognizes the need to evolve and cannot continue with the same traditional approaches while expecting different results.

Their goal is to attract the next generation to the trucking workforce, which necessitates improving the industry by adopting technology, being open to experimentation, and advocating for a brighter future. Lindsey believes that by acknowledging the emergence of technologies like AI and autonomous trucks, they can enhance safety and efficiency, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable supply chain.

Filling Gap Between Industry and Education

The Next Generation in Trucking Association places a strong emphasis on collaboration as a core part of its mission. One of the primary motivations for establishing the association was to facilitate collaboration and bridge the gap between the trucking industry and education. They recognize the importance of forming partnerships with educational institutions to cultivate a workforce that can drive the supply chain towards greater success, adaptability, and sustainability.

Fostering Relationships

Lindsey’s approach to her work is deeply rooted in building relationships and connecting with people on a personal level. She genuinely enjoys forming partnerships with individuals she respects and enjoys working with. While the official mission of the Next Generation in Trucking Association is focused on fostering relationships between schools and the industry, Lindsey’s ultimate goal is to facilitate and strengthen these connections, ensuring that schools and industry can collaborate effectively.

Recognizing that schools will be the source of the future workforce for employers, Lindsey emphasizes the importance of active involvement and relationship-building within local educational institutions.

Whether participating in advisory board meetings or attending student organization conferences like the National FFA Conference, one of the most enjoyable aspects of her role is engaging with students. She takes delight in learning about their aspirations, journeys into their chosen fields, and future ambitions. Lindsey also highlights the exciting opportunities she gets to offer students, such as letting them experience driving a driver simulator or using VR headsets to change the oil on a truck. It’s clear that she finds her job to be truly amazing and fulfilling.

Staying Informed and Connected

To excel in her role, Lindsey recognizes the importance of remaining actively engaged in both the trucking industry and the field of education. This commitment ensures that she stays informed about the latest developments, future trends, and opportunities for the trucking industry to make a positive impact on education. To achieve this, she maintains a proactive approach by regularly reading magazine articles and actively participating in workforce groups and committees.

Her dedication to staying up-to-date is evident even when she’s traveling, as she can often be found reading a stack of Transport Topics, Education, and Supply Chain magazines while on an airplane. This ongoing engagement enables her to stay well-informed and contribute effectively to her mission of bridging the gap between industry and education.

Addressing the Driver Shortage

One of the initiatives that the Next Generation in Trucking Association launched this year is the development of internal Next Gen committees within companies. These committees focus on workforce initiatives aimed at creating a strategic workforce strategy to engage the next generation effectively. The primary objective is to bridge the gap between the trucking industry and education by providing educational resources and promoting trucking as an attractive career option.

The pressing issue of the driver shortage and the aging workforce is a significant challenge faced by many association members. To address this issue, the Next Generation in Trucking Association is proactively reaching out to high school students and offering training opportunities to prepare them for careers as professional drivers. An exciting development is the creation of a standardized curriculum guide based on the Patterson High School truck driver training course, conceived by Dave Dein.

This curriculum guide will be made available to high schools, enabling them to establish commercial driving classes. The association has invested $150,000 in this curriculum guide, thanks to a grant from Knorr-Bremse, signifying a significant step toward addressing the driver shortage issue in the industry.

Personal Growth and the Future of Trucking

Over the past few years, Lindsey has experienced significant personal growth as the association has developed. However, she recognizes that there is still ample room for further growth. The work is both exciting and fulfilling, and she wakes up every day with enthusiasm, dedicated to the mission and vision of the association.

This mission holds immense importance for the trucking industry’s future success and growth. Moreover, it plays a vital role in connecting young people with a promising career path that offers financial stability, supports families, and contributes positively to communities. Trucking, after all, is the backbone of America’s progress.

Reflecting on the lessons learned, Lindsey acknowledges that the journey has been filled with valuable insights. Starting an association and a foundation from scratch, mastering the art of grant writing, navigating the unique language of education, and delivering substantial value to members are among the many skills and experiences she has acquired. She asserts, I am still figuring out the work-life balance because I could work 24-7. When you are passionate about what you do and see lives being changed, it is hard to stop at the end of the day.”

Vision for Supply Chain Education

Lindsey’s aspirations for the association’s impact are deeply rooted in education. She envisions a future where high schools across the United States offer programs that support the supply chain industry. These programs would encompass a wide range of courses, including supply chain and logistics, medium heavy-duty truck technician pathways, and commercial driving classes.

The timing for introducing such educational initiatives couldn’t be more opportune. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of the supply chain, and its vulnerabilities have been exposed. As a result, high schools are increasingly receptive to the idea of incorporating these programs. Young people are becoming aware of the existence of trucking jobs, recognizing them as high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand career options.

Moreover, the association is actively advocating for a change in regulations to permit 18-year-olds, who have undergone comprehensive training and education, to drive interstate. This isn’t about granting driving privileges to any 18-year-old but rather to those who have completed a two-year pathway, received training on a driver simulator, and possess a deep understanding of what it means to be a professional driver.

In an era where many are questioning the value of pursuing a traditional four-year college education laden with student loan debt, it’s the perfect moment to create opportunities for students to enter the trucking industry. Jobs that support the supply chain will always be in demand, and these careers offer substantial room for growth, including pathways to entrepreneurship, making them especially appealing to Generation Z.

Guiding the Next Generation

Lindsey emphasizes that The Next Generation in Trucking Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people by connecting them to training opportunities that lead to promising careers in the supply chain industry. Achieving this mission requires the support of the industry and its stakeholders.

The association’s initiatives revolve around various aspects, including enhancing the image and attractiveness of trucking careers, developing educational resources, and assisting schools in establishing trucking-related programs. By collaborating with its members and receiving their support, the association strives to accomplish its mission of bridging the gap between young individuals and the trucking industry, ultimately creating a sustainable workforce that can effectively contribute to the supply chain.

However, the association’s mission goes beyond simply filling job positions. It is fundamentally about empowering young people to thrive in well-paying and stable careers. Lindsey encourages all companies and individuals to join the association and actively participate in supporting this crucial mission.