Michigan School Finds Success Training Student Truckers
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An Ann Arbor, Mich., community college says the demand for more truck drivers and the popularity of its training program are the main reasons why a course sponsored by Trainco Inc. and hosted by Washtenaw Community College is expanding.
A second instructor is being added to the program to accommodate the growth.
“Across Michigan and throughout the U.S., there’s still a large demand for CDL drivers,” said Jim Brywczynski, vice president of sales and marketing for Trainco. “WCC has done an amazing job hosting this program.”
The college said that beginning last September the company began a partnership with Trainco Inc. through its Workforce and Community Development Division to offer a full-service CDL-A training program to begin filling some of the critical workforce development needs.
In the 10 months that the program has been operating, nearly 40 students have graduated, and the college said 37 have been offered jobs.
According to the school, training sessions run for three weeks and can take six students each, and there is a waiting list to get in. The next session begins July 26.
Students complete the classroom portion on campus and use a WCC parking lot for the skills pad training.
There are150 hours of training; 50 in the classroom, 50 of skills pad practice and 50 of supervised driving experience.
Organizations that are encouraging more people to consider the trucking and transportation field as a career believe this type of grassroots program that is community-based offers a solid entry point.
“American Trucking Associations is predicting a driver shortage of 160,000 by 2030,” said Lindsey Trent, founder and president of advocacy nonprofit group Next Generation in Trucking Association. “Truck driving is a secure job that is considered high wage, high skill and high demand. Expanding training and making it more accessible to the next generation is the mission of Next Generation in Trucking. There is no other training in the time frame that is offered that can pay as well as a CDL.”
The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast an annual national average of 259,900 openings for heavy- and tractor-trailer truck driver positions through 2031, largely due to retirements.
According to Zip Recruiter, the average income for a CDL-A driver in Michigan is nearly $63,700 annually, and Trainco’s Brywczynski said a new CDL-A driver can earn $50,000 to $95,000 annually.
Trainco Inc. is a Perrysburg, Ohio, truck training company that operates in both Ohio and Michigan. The company says it has been training drivers for more than two decades and more than 90% of its 10,000 graduates receive employment after completing their training.
Brywczynski said he works directly with students to help place them in a job and attempts to connect those students with companies that will pay for a student driver’s tuition in exchange for a year of work.
ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello has long urged the industry to target younger people to lower the average age of truck drivers.
“The trucking industry needs to find ways to attract more and younger drivers,” Costello said. “Right now, the average age of an over-the-road driver is 46 years old, and almost as alarming is that the average age of a new driver being trained is 35 years old.
“Whether by removing barriers for younger drivers to begin careers as drivers, attracting more demographic diversity into the industry or easing the transition for veterans, we need to do more to recruit and retain drivers.”
Costello and ATA say programs being encouraged by the private sector and government to encourage apprenticeships is one way to get younger people and more women into the industry.
As part of the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, the Department of Transportation unveiled the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, which allows 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to drive interstate after extensive training.
There was so much demand for the truck driving program that Trainco, Inc. began offering on our campus last year that it is expanding! The next three-week class begins July 26.
Learn more. https://t.co/DGlEm68xrr — Washtenaw Community College (@washtenawcc) July 15, 2023
Lauren Kakaley, a former certified nurses’ aide, is a Trainco graduate. She finished the program in April and now works for a Tampa, Fla.-company that moves agriculture products.
She says she had attended WCC for her medical care program and was a stay-at-home mom until deciding to enroll in the program and re-enter the workforce.
“I wanted to change it up,” Kakaley said. “The first day, we were in the classroom for a few hours and then the instructor made us drive. He wasn’t just lecturing all the time. The class was very active, and he was very engaging. It was pretty intimidating, but it was exciting.”
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