Memphis-based M.S. Carriers will provide the test site for a strategic alliance with the Puerto Rican government to provide truck drivers for the U. S.
World-Wide Solutions, a Puerto Rican-based consulting company, aims to establish a Puerto Rican-based truck driver school to train Puerto Rican residents to drive trucks in the U.S. and to supply the qualified drivers to a U.S.-based company that will lease them to trucking companies.
M.S. Carriers, which is also involved in a test program with the U.S. Department of Labor to provide training and job opportunties in trucking to displaced workers, will test the viability of the WWS program.
A Puerto Rican-based truck driving school, the Trucking Institute, will prepare students there to qualify for Commercial Drivers Licenses in the U.S. Students will also receive training in English and will be taught to adjust socially to their new lives and careers in the U.S. The Trucking Institute training facility will be headquartered and operated in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
An employee leasing company, Quality Driver Source, will be formed in the U.S. WWS will supply qualified driver graduates to this company, which will in turn lease the drivers to trucking companies in North American on a rotational basis.
Leased employees will work three out of every four weeks. During the three-week work period, the employee will drive in an over-the-road operation, living in the truck and at truckstops. During the fourth week of the rotation, the employee will return home to Puerto Rico.
"We are working to make truck driving an attractive career choice,” said Lawrence LeGrand, president and CEO of WWS.
According to Ramone Almada, director of the Puerto Rican Industrial Development Corp., the program will help unemployment in Puerto Rico, especially in Mayaguez where unemployment is high. For those who are employed, the average annual income is under $18,000. The average education level in Puerto Rico is 13 years. There is a surplus of educated and motivated residents seeking career opportunities, he said.
“Many Puerto Ricans are faced with low paying jobs and high rates of unemployment,” Almada said. The program “provides them with a career opportunity that promises a good salary and advancement opportunities with American trucking companies. It’s a ticket to a more financially secure future."
M.S. Carriers has agreed to provide on-location training and employment for the first 1,000 Puerto Rican drivers, which will be leased to the fleet through the driver leasing company. Paychecks and benefits will come through Quality Driver Source.
Long-term objectives for WWS include establishing training schools in the southwestern U.S. and creating a Hispanic resource development program. It will also promote the creation of a “gateway” program for legal Central American immigrants. The company’s objective is to provide quality, bilingual dirvers to support the free trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, as well and Canada.