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Freight transport company CRST will be closing their Cedar Rapids-based North American Driver Training Academy (NADTA), company officials confirmed Nov. 9. The training facility, at 5020 18th Ave SW, will close by Dec. 31, after the last group of trainees has completed the program. The announcement was made by CRST president and CEO Hugh Ekberg to CRST employees in late October. “As CRST continues to adapt with our ever-changing global economy, the decision has been made to close the Cedar Rapids-based North American Driver Training Academy (NADTA),” a statement from CRST says. “When we started NADTA in 2013, we became the go-to place for students to earn their CDL (commercial driver’s license) and become professional over-the-road drivers. Over the years, we have graduated thousands of student drivers to support our growing industry. “Today, with more professional drivers on the road and the regionalization of our customers’ supply chains, we have established a culture for experienced drivers to grow and thrive. By staying focused on retaining our existing drivers and targeting customers that fit CRST’s current operating structure, we will continue to offer best-in-class service while providing more driver-centric opportunities.” “There will be a handful of talented individuals that are impacted directly by this decision,” the statement concludes. “We are fortunate enough to have an enterprise that is primed for growth and are diligently working to assure that opportunities are readily available to keep the individuals as part of Team CRST.” More than 12,000 drivers have graduated from the NADTA program, according to a Gazette report. The move comes as the trucking industry continues to report a driver shortage nationwide. While the shortage eased slightly in 2022, after more than 90% of truckload carriers raised pay last year, the industry still faces its second-largest number of vacancies on record, American Trucking Associations (ATA) chief economist Bob Costello said in late October. The number of unfilled driver jobs slid to nearly 78,000, down about 4% from a record 81,258 in 2021, according to the association’s projections. However, ATA officials say the improvement is expected to be temporary, given that an aging workforce and freight demand are both projected to grow.