Pennsylvania Goodwill Promotes CDL Training for Youth

Goodwill at Southwestern Pennsylvania Incorporating Trucking and Bus-Driving Promotion Into YouthWorks Program
Trucks parked in Pennsylvania
Trucks parked for the night at a TA Travel Center in Greencastle, Pa. (Samuel Corum/Bloomberg News)

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Charles Burke still gets emails asking if he’s interested in trucking jobs, even though he has been semiretired and driving a bus for the Penn Hills School District for several years now.

“Bonuses are going up and up as places are looking for people to do commercial truck driving,” said Burke, 54, of Penn Hills, Pa. “I’ll be honest: If the right bonus comes up, I just may go back at it.”

Burke’s experience helps illustrate the value that a commercial driver license, or CDL, can bring. And with a wide variety of companies seeking CDL holders, there is no lack of opportunity for work.

The International Road Transport Union estimates there were 3 million unfilled trucking positions in 2023 in the 36 countries they studied, including the U.S. American Trucking Associations estimates a shortage of 78,000 drivers in the U.S.

Officials at Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania also have taken notice and announced this month they are holding open enrollment for a program aimed at showing young people the benefits of CDL certification.

For Burke, who has driven commercial vehicles for J.B. Hunt, the U.S. Postal Service, Kraft Food Services, the Veterans Administration and more, it’s simple.

“I tell anybody who will listen, especially in this economy, truck driving is a great career,” he said. “There’s a wide range of jobs you can do — not just longhaul but regional hauling, container freight, box trucks.”

Through its existing YouthWorks program, Goodwill officials will offer participants the ability to take an eight-week Class A license training course at Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce Campus, as well as a paid work opportunity through the program, guidance on job searching and interview skills and more.


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“There is a tremendous need for CDL drivers in today’s job market,” said Tiffanee Heywood, director of YouthWorks at Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “This impactful training program provides the skills and credentials young people can use immediately to gain employment, and provides a weekly stipend for the individuals while in training.”

The Commercial Driver’s License Program’s curriculum begins with training for the Knowledge Test, mandatory for obtaining a CDL permit. The subsequent weeks immerse participants in practice maneuvering trucks, becoming acclimated to the vehicles and preparation for the skills road test necessary to obtain a Class A CDL.

Burke said the program, and others like it, can only help.

“There’s been a shortage of truck drivers for quite a while,” he said. “I think part of it is a misconception about the truck driving life.”

Burke got his start with commercial vehicles during his time in the military in the 1980s.

“I was a truck sergeant in the Army, and that’s where I learned to operate a tractor-trailer and heavy equipment,” he said. “Then through the ’90s, I did deliveries up until my last job as a shuttle bus driver for the VA. It’s the only job I know where you can train for about 30 days, depending on your schedule, get your CDL and start off making about $50,000 your first year, depending on what you’re willing to do.”

Across its different facets, the YouthWorks program works with more than 20,000 youths in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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