Schneider National is moving toward more remote orientation for newly hired drivers and independent owner-operators.
In a recent announcement, Schneider said it would take several steps at eight sites where it now performs orientation training: Phoenix; Indianapolis and Gary, Indiana; Atlanta; Dallas; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; West Memphis,Tennessee; and Charlotte, North Carolina, which is dedicated solely to owner-operators who have leased with the truckload carrier.
There are several aspects to the new training regime, Schneider said. Drivers who are going through orientation will now do it from a large conference room at a hotel near the training facility rather than at the training center itself — but only if the space at the training center becomes too full for proper social distancing, the company said. And lodging is being cut down to single occupancy in a room. It had been two trainees sharing a room.
Classrooms at the training centers will continue to be used, according to a statement sent to FreightWaves by Tom DiSalvi, Schneider’s vice president of safety, driver training and compliance. “If there are more new hires in a class that can safely attend the training in the traditional classroom, then a portion of them attend the orientation at an off-site location nearby the training facility,” he said in the email, adding that the site would be a “large hotel conference room.”
Schneider has other training sites beyond those eight, he added. But classes at those locations are small enough that the company doesn’t believe it needs to set up the remote backstop to ensure social distancing.
“All of these training academies have implemented numerous safety measures, including social distancing, since the start of the pandemic and have continued to safely onboard and train new hires,” DiSalvi said.
In the announcement of the new policy, Schneider said the remote participants will work on Chromebooks supplied by the company to track the training going on live at the regular sites. There also will be a driver training associate from Schneider on-site at the hotel.
Schneider has three levels of orientation training: candidates who have a CDL but no driving experience; candidates with a CDL and driving experience; and owner-operators.
The training for inexperienced drivers lasts three weeks, while the experienced and owner-operator training is four days, DiSalvi said.
Schneider had made changes in its orientation at the start of the pandemic, including greater disinfecting of trucks, prescreening for symptoms and implementing social distancing in the classroom and at other times, the company said.
Schneider’s CDL apprenticeship training program in Indianapolis and Charlotte is continuing in-person classes.The program “demands a more personal instruction with a higher ratio of instructors to students and [is] not currently offered remotely,” DiSalvi said.