Prevost generously partners with UMA and Hire Heroes USA to recruit and train coach drivers
By David Hubbard
Prevost, St. Claire, QB, Canada, has made a generous commitment to help fulfill the need for bus and coach operators in hiring and training drivers. In partnership with the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), Alexandria, VA, the company has established Prevost Prep, or more formally the Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers, offered solely online through the Bus and Motorcoach Academy at the Clarence Cornell School of Business and the College of Southern Maryland.
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“Drivers are cornerstone resources of the industry and we must do what we can to encourage skilled drivers,” says Prevost CEO Gaetan Bolduc. “Training is an important part of that attraction and retention.”
Recognizing that motorcoach operators are greatly challenged in recruiting, training and retaining qualified drivers, Prevost has committed to supporting this specialized program over the next 10 years. The company is pulling out all the stops.
“Prevost’s support for the UMA Bus and Motorcoach Academy Driver Program is in recognition of just how important the driver is to the overall success of a motorcoach company,” says UMA CEO Victor Parra. “The driver establishes the company’s brand and may be the only reason a customer uses that company again, or chooses not to.”
Prevost Prep prepares prospective drivers to pass the CDL written exam and provides a thorough review of applicable industry regulations for those already licensed.
“The convenience of learning online has revolutionized education and training in general and fits the budget and time challenges of most operators and prospective drivers,” Parra says. “The generous long term financial commitment of Prevost allows the development of courses and keeps tuition costs manageable.”
According to UMA Vice President Ken Presley, the Academy previously offered a series of five courses for licensed drivers desiring to expand their knowledge and earn certification, as some member companies offer additional compensation as an incentive for their completing this program. He says Prevost Prep squarely anchors the Academy’s offerings and now affords the opportunity for operators to solve their recruiting challenges economically and timely.
“What the Academy did not offer prior to Prevost Prep were courses to prepare prospective drivers for the state written exam and behind-the-wheel training,” Presley says. “We completely updated our existing driver curriculum and added new sections and courses. Additionally, the College of Southern Maryland converted all Academy courses to a new platform.”
He says that for the vast preponderance of carriers operating small fleets, recruiting needs are usually too small to conduct traditional classroom sessions.
“Skilled instructors and curriculum are in short supply,” he says. “This, of course, makes Prevost Prep a natural solution for operators to increase their number of drivers at will.”
The financial assistance by Prevost includes its provision of Prevost Prep scholarships for drivers and prospective drivers. Application for scholarships is through UMA, which the association awards on behalf of Prevost. These scholarships are open to the entire industry, not only to Prevost customers and UMA members. Scholarships are for partial tuition on the complete course package based on UMA’s criteria. Participants who complete the program satisfactorily receive a letter of completion for submission to an insurance company for renewals.
Prevost teams with Hire Heroes USA
Through its recent partnership with Hire Heroes USA, Alpharetta, GA, Prevost is further introducing the bus and coach industry to military veterans seeking to overcome employment barriers and enter the civilian job market, and land good jobs with good companies.
Both organizations encourage bus and coach operators with open positions for qualified drivers and maintenance personnel to post them on the Hire Heroes USA website.
Prevost makes this service available to all motorcoach operators, as the company recognizes the value of bringing qualified veterans to the industry. Simply fill out the open position form provided at www.prevostcar.com/hire-heroes-form, and Prevost will take care of the rest.
“Returning veterans are a valuable resource,” Bolduc says. “The skills they possess are a strong foundation, well-suited to supplying significant value to a motorcoach business.”
Hire Heroes USA assists veterans in creating effective resumes and provides job-search coaching that transitions military experience into civilian applications. The organization shows employers the value trained veterans bring to the workplace and creates opportunities for employers to meet those veterans. The problem, it says, is the stigma often associated with veterans, noting that a significant number of employers perceive Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as poor job candidates due to physical injuries or psychological disorders.
Hire Heroes USA instead points to the positive attributes military veterans bring to the table:
• They understand practical ways to manage and achieve goals in even the most trying circumstances.
• They know genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues.
• Veterans have worked respectfully and cooperatively alongside others regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or mental and physical capabilities.
• They understand how policies and procedures yield stability, safety and productivity in all areas of the operation.
If that is not enough, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides an expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to businesses that hire eligible unemployed veterans. Also, for the first time, it makes the credit available to certain tax-exempt organizations.
The credit can be as high as $9,600 per veteran for for-profit employers or up to $6,240 for tax-exempt organizations. The amount of credit depends on a number of factors, including the length of the veteran’s unemployment before hire, hours a veteran works, and the amount of first-year wages paid. Employers who hire veterans with service-related disabilities may be eligible for the maximum credit.