Garrett College responds to the growing needs of the transportation industry
McHENRY — While technology and innovation constantly evolve, the transportation industry — especially truck driving, remains a major sector of the economy expected to experience continued growth, expansion and job creation. As such, the truck driving industry is vitally essential to the economy.
Even so, the industry is experiencing a crisis — there are simply not enough workers to fill jobs. The latest data reports a driver shortage of approximately 48,000 drivers.
The Maryland Motor Truck Association, known as MMTA, recently indicated the trucking industry in Maryland alone provides over 116,000 jobs or one out of 18 in the state. Total trucking industry wages paid in Maryland exceed $6.1 billion, with an average annual trucking industry salary of over $52,000 (www.mmtanet.com).
The trend of experiencing too much freight and not enough drivers to haul is expected to continue through 2020.
According to the MMTA, truck drivers have a distinct advantage in the world of supply and demand, resulting in wages that continue to rise. The Transportation Industry Outlook 2019 recently released by HUB International indicates that the driver shortage will continue to shape every aspect of the trucking industry. (www.hubinternational.com).
Companies are also looking to fill their workforce with women, who comprise only 7.89 percent of the driver population in the transportation industry, as reported by the Women in Trucking Association.
As competition increases among fewer drivers, employers are offering sign-on bonuses, improved benefits packages, tuition reimbursement opportunities, and increased pay, among other benefits.
Employers are working to make the job more attractive as they strive to recruit and retain safe and experienced drivers, according to survey data provided by the American Trucking Associations.
Employers are not the only ones responding to the shortage of skilled drivers in a high-demand industry.
Entities that provide CDL training, such as Garrett College, are “answering the call” by providing training opportunities for those seeking to pursue a high-demand career that not only pays well but addresses both the present and future workforce demands.
“We recognize the demand for dependable, safe drivers and are responding by doing our best to train quality and reliable drivers for successful careers, whether it is within the tristate area or cross-country,” said Terry Beachy of Continuing Education & Workforce Development of Garrett College.
Most recently, Garrett College was able to acquire a newer dump truck with the assistance of a Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund grant, to aid in instruction for the Class B CDL training program.
Since 2004, Garrett College’s Mountaintop Truck Driving program has been instrumental in delivering high-quality training and instruction for drivers seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Training for Class A has been offered since the program started, and in 2008, the need for Class B training arose and became available.
A Class B CDL license allows an individual to operate any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, with any such vehicle towing a vehicle, not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
“We can now offer even better results from our Class B training with the recently purchased tandem dump truck,” stated Dennis Rodeheaver, instructor for the Class B CDL program at GC. “This impressive truck will allow us to meet the needs of both Class B drivers and local Class B companies looking to hire our graduates.”
Individuals acquire the necessary skills to operate professional trucks and vehicles through a curriculum centered on a classroom, fundamental range skills, and over-the-road instruction. Pre-trip inspection, map reading and an overview of log books are also covered.
Garrett College is able to offer flexibility and one-on-one instruction for the training. The Class B program is only a six-day program, with training dates and times arranged to accommodate the student’s schedule. Training is offered on a continual basis throughout the course of the year.
According to Beachy, students enrolled in Garrett’s programs consistently perform well throughout the training and have an overall competitive advantage when it comes to taking the CDL licensure exams.
“Upon completion of the training, we take students to test for their CDL license exams at their local Department of Motor Vehicles,” Beachy said. “This gives us a significant advantage in knowing what our students can expect and be prepared for.”
In fact, program graduates have an 88 percent first-time licensure pass rate on the CDL exam. Over the years, students from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia enrolled in GC’s CDL programs.
Students also discover there are plenty of job opportunities available throughout the tri-state area and surrounding region, once they have completed the program and obtained their license.
Over time, the CDL program has directly supported the workforce of Garrett County. Currently, there are several graduates of the program employed with the Garrett County Department of Public Works and Roads division.
“The reputation of GC’s CDL program is highly regarded,” said Theresa Miller, administrative roads coordinator of Garrett County Public Works–Roads division. “The skills and hands-on knowledge our graduates received through Garrett College’s CDL program contribute greatly to the success of our daily maintenance operations.”
Funding opportunities are also available to potential students, whether it is through the G.I. Bill, SNAP Grant, Garrett County Scholarship Program (occupational scholarship), or the Garrett County and Allegany County Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs.
The Workforce Development Sequence Scholarship, offered through the Maryland Higher Education Commission, will also be available in the near future. Designed to provide financial assistance to students enrolling in an approved non-credited certificate program at participating Maryland community colleges, this scholarship provides an annual maximum award of $2,000. GC’s Class B CDL training program is one of the approved programs that fit the scholarship criteria.
Garrett College’s Mountaintop Truck Driving Institute is located in Grantsville. Prior to enrolling in CDL training, individuals must have a Department of Transportation physical and DOT federal drug screen less than 60 days old. An accompanying Class A or Class B CDL learner’s permit is also required.