The equine transportation, or shipping, industry subsector is a niche sector of a much larger national transportation and logistics industry. The employees in this industry must be versed, first and foremost in the requirements of the road and Department of Transportation regulations. However, of equal importance is the need for horsemanship skills and understanding of a very complex equine industry.
For these reasons, equine transportation companies constantly struggle to find, hire, and retain good talent. Starting with the major companies in Central Kentucky it became quickly apparent that the need to be connected to the National Horse Carriers Association was paramount. Once connected to this organization, the reach of the collaborative grew exponentially. The collaborative group was comprised of nine employers spanning the United States. Several employers were headquartered in Kentucky, several were head quartered elsewhere but maintained hubs in Kentucky, while others just did most of their business here.
After initial discussions it was easily determined that over-the-road CDL drivers were the groups number one priority. These positions are all vital to the success of these employers and often work collaboratively within the organizations.
The equine shipping yearly calendar is quite varied depending on what industry sector the employer tailors to, but the fall seems particularly heavy. During this time in 2019, collaborative members became less active and engaged, and although still had interest in participating, did not have the time to dedicate. As a result, it was decided to enter a consultative model with one larger company that was eager to continue the work.
This company stood by the notion that the highest need was indeed over-the-road CDL drivers but also wanted to conduct demand projections and have discussions regarding additional positions, including local drivers, track agents, and light mechanics. They also mentioned early on the need for public engagement and education regarding training and career opportunities within the industry.
Although demand numbers were comparatively small for this one company versus the overall industry need, these positions are vital to the operation of the company. In addition, the business model of this particular employer, as well as many in the industry, allows for an employee collaborative style within the company. For these reasons, and after numerous discussions with the company, it was decided to focus on an all-encompassing industry engagement and training program.
- Equine Transportation Vocational Training Program: Playing off the significant shortage of CDL over-the-road drivers in the state, equine transport companies have taken the initiative to partner with Bluegrass Community and Technical College to develop an equine-specific training program for CDL holders.
Individuals will be recruited from CDL schools across the state to the two-week equine intensive training program. Students will learn hands-on equine handling skills and skills about loading, transporting, and navigating situations while traveling with horses. Client interaction, paperwork and documentation requirement, and emergency protocols will also be addressed. Students will complete their training with a two-week shadowing opportunity with an equine transport company before engaging in the interview process with employers.