News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.
North Carolina School Gets $1.7 Million to Expand CDL Program
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A $1.7 million federal grant will help Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C., expand its truck driver training program in the Triad, a region that school officials say has a 31% higher need for truck drivers than the national average.
“We’re pretty excited. It will help double the number of students we can accept into the program,” which GTCC started in 2020, said Beth Pitonzo, the school’s senior vice president of instruction.
About 390 students have gone through the program to earn a commercial driver license to drive a tractor-trailer.
The project will provide an asphalt training pad, parking lot and other infrastructure upgrades to expand GTCC’s capacity to provide truck driver workforce training.
The grant will be matched with $2.6 million in state funds and is expected to create 1,782 jobs, according to grantee estimates. The Piedmont Triad Regional Council led the regional planning efforts.
“It’s truly a collaborative process,” Pitonzo said.
If all goes well, the project could be completed in early 2025 and begin welcoming an estimated 420 students each year, she said.
This training program “was highly sought after by the community prior to the pandemic,” she said, noting that supply chain issues across the nation further amplified the need.
Students seeking a CDL will spend 320 hours in the program either in an eight-week format or one that spans 16 weeks. During that time, 22% of the time will involve classroom training and 78% on the driving range.
“People can get done pretty quickly and get out there” on the highways, Pitonzo said.
Although salaries vary, the median pay for truck drivers in the Triad area is approximately $64,000, she said.
The grant will bolster the aims of the Biden administration’s Trucking Action Plan to grow and strengthen America’s trucking workforce.
“As part of the Biden administration’s Investing in America agenda, we’re ensuring that workers have the skills and resources they need to secure good-paying jobs in the communities where they live,” Raimondo said in a news release. “This EDA investment in Guilford Technical Community College will increase truck driving training opportunities to create pathways to professional growth in this traditionally underserved area, helping meet regional industry workforce needs and bolstering supply chain resilience.”
Gov. Roy Cooper said the grant to GTCC “will have long-lasting impacts and help our students develop critical skills that will help shape their careers.”
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