Career center begins CDL course

Adults looking to break out on the open road and earn a living can soon get trained in a matter of weeks at the Washington County Career Center.

“I got paid to see the country,” explained Elizabeth Gardner, the program’s new CDL Program training manager.

Gardner brings more than 14 years of experience both driving and training to the career center and said she’s looking forward to overseeing the program in Washington County.

“We’re expecting to train between 50 and 100 new CDL drivers within the next year,” said Tony Huffman, Adult Technical Training director. “That’s good for a month-long training program.”

Huffman said the center is just waiting on one final certification for accreditation before it will be able to host the first class.

“So the earliest we could start is between 60 and 120 days,” he said. “We believe we’ll be able to put four to eight students in each session since you can only put four students in one truck over the road with an instructor.”

As a career that’s in demand across the state, Huffman said he is excited to offer the course completely in-house now.

“Before we’ve served as a satellite location for other schools but didn’t feel like those met our needs,” he explained. “And CDL truck driving is one of the most in-demand jobs in Ohio. It pops up numerous times on any public Ohio job board… and we’ve had a lot of calls about having a course here.”

The new course addition was made possible through a $170,000 grant to purchase three Volvo tractor trailers. The grant was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization program to Hocking College which is a partner with the career center in the program.

According to the American Trucking Association the transportation industry is experiencing a national shortage of truck drivers. The ATA’s U.S. Truck Driver Shortage Analysis and Forecast Report shows a shortage of 48,000 drivers in 2015 and predicted the trucking industry would need to hire 890,000 new drivers over the next decade, approximately 89,000 each year.

“This will help the industry as a whole,” said Ernie Hoschar, owner of the Belpre-based trucking company EHC Transport.

Gardner said in her more than eight years on the road she loved not only the time she got to herself, but also the places she got to see while working.

“I’ve been in every state and parts of Canada,” she said. “There are plenty of things to see out there, animals I’d never seen before, places I’d never been. Why not go out there and experience it all over the country?”

The program is open to those over 18 years of age by the beginning of the course session.

“But there are some restrictions to those under 21,” explained Huffman. “Before 21 you can only drive within the state.”

Aside from the age challenge, there are also other requirements for admittance into the program.

“You have to pass a drug screening and an (Ohio Department of Transportation) physical and basic academic (math and reading) tests,” noted Huffman.

Huffman also noted that the career center’s new instructor for the program will begin work Monday.

“Dave Mays was an over the road driver for eight years and believed it was a great career,” he said. “We’re happy to have him on board to share his knowledge.”

At a glance

¯ A new truck driving school will open at the Washington County Career Center by Thanksgiving.

¯ The course will last between four and six weeks per session and accept up to eight students each session.

¯ Upon completion of the course students will be qualified to hold either a Class A (semi trailer) or Class B (large dump truck or box truck) license.

¯ The program was made possible by an Appalachian Regional Commission grant of $170,000 as part of a program pursued in conjunction with Hocking College in Nelsonville.

Source: Washington County Career Center.