Preston Hollow couple aims to recruit more women, people of color into the industry
Preston Hollow husband-and-wife trucking duo Austin Carter and Sierra Nicole have seen the brunt of ongoing supply chain woes and are opening a trade school to combat it.
Carter, a trucking veteran of seven years, sees a truck driver shortage contributing to the problem. The pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing shortage, and new regulations have made it challenging to obtain the proper certifications to move freight, he said.
“A lot of people, especially in California, [can’t] even get into the ports unless they have certain certifications to be in a port [and] to be able to get freight,” said Carter. “[Due] to that right there, we’re really suffering.”
That means shipping delays and barren store shelves, Nicole added.
They are starting Elite Trade Academy to bring more people into the trucking industry.
It is our mission to be able to get more drivers out.Austin Carter
The academy will operate as a four-week program where students spend two weeks studying online to attain their permit before learning how to shift and maneuver in an actual semi-truck. Students would then take a test to achieve their Commercial Driving License.
So far, they have helped students with online classes but are still putting the funding together to attain the physical elements of the school, such as the semi-truck.
“It is our mission to be able to get more drivers out,” Carter said.
They are especially focused on introducing more people of color to trucking, he said. “We’re [also] trying to get more women inside the trucking industry because they make up about 40% of the workforce, but in trucking, it’s about 7%.”
Nicole also wants to target ex-felons, people in low-income communities, and adults who have aged out of the foster care system. The academy has given scholarships to people within these demographics, she said.
They also hope to show how trucking is a good career opportunity. For Carter and Nicole, a career in trucking has provided for their family for seven years.
“The fact that [Carter] was able to [learn] a trade, have a good career, and provide for our family [is] what really sparked [Elite Trade Academy],” Nicole said.
They want to give that same opportunity to others.
“Having a career in trucking [is] not just a career,” said Nicole, “but it’s a lifestyle.”