ATLANTA - Convinced that the bulk of its driver recruits - mostly 20-somethings - respond best to high-tech instruction and a chance to hone skills, UPS has gone beyond traditional driver training methods with videogame technology and hands-on learning, according to the Wall Street Journal.
With its Baby Boom-generation drivers soon retiring, UPS is looking to boost the effectiveness of its driver training methods and hire 25,000 new recruits over the next five years, reported WSJ.
Driver candidates now spend one week at Integrad, an 11,500-square-foot, low-slung brick UPS training center 10 miles outside of Washington, D.C. There they move from one station to another practicing the company's "340 Methods," prescribed by UPS industrial engineers to save seconds and improve safety in every task from lifting and loading boxes to selecting a package from a shelf in the truck.
The new methods include a videogame that places them in the driver's seat and has them identify obstacles, kinetic learning" modules where candidates practice loading and unloading packages from a UPS truck, and computer simulations where they drive a real truck and must successfully execute five deliveries in 19 minutes.
UPS worked with researchers from Virginia Tech to design the new methods, which UPS said has proven successful so far. Of the 1,629 trainees who have completed Integrad since it began as an experiment in 2007, only 10 percent have failed the training program, which takes a total of six weeks overall and includes 30 days driving a truck in the real world.
By getting out of the traditional classroom and using technology and hands-on learning, "we've enhanced the probability of success of these new drivers," said Allen Hill, UPS senior vice president of human resources. A second Integrad will open in the Chicago area in the summer, and the training methods will eventually go company-wide, he said.