New center bringing training closer to homePublished 10:08am Tuesday, December 11, 2012
SOUTH POINT — By 10 a.m. Monday the inaugural class of the new Truck Driving Academy at South Point was ready for a break from its first classroom lecture.
Over a plate of cinnamon rolls at the academy’s headquarters at The Point industrial park, students started sharing stories on why they were willing to spend the next four weeks in the classroom and on the road seeking a commercial driving license.
“My resume isn’t real full,” said Jeff Linn of Ironton, who had spent his working career behind the counter at Bob Linn Sporting Goods, his family’s landmark store.
This time last year Linn was probably not expecting to make such a diametrically opposed career move. But when the store closed in July, Linn started looking at other job options.
“I think I needed to have something on my resume,” Linn said. “You go on job sites they are all for CDL people and nurses.”
Serving students like Linn, as well as those right out of high school, is one of the missions of the new academy. Until it was started, the closest students could go to study for their CDL was at Piketon.
The academy is the first program sponsored by the new Ohio Strategic Training Center at The Point under the direction of Scott Howard, in partnership with Southern State Community College.
“We have learned as a training provider that rather than duplicate services, let’s partner,” Howard said. “It is a better use of resources.”
Right now CDL drivers are among one of the top 10 careers available in the state, according to John Joy, dean of workforce development and community services at the community college.
The, current course is for four-weeks for a total of 160 hours with the first week in the classroom before students head for the big rigs to learn basic maneuvers in a small space, backing and controlling the trucks. That part of the training will happen at the industrial park. After that it is out on the highway to learn how to maneuver on the road.
“What we found out was companies in the area were hiring CDL drivers out of state,” Howard said. “Then (the drivers) would take the money and go back to Maryland to spend it. We would rather train and keep the money locally.”
The demographic for the career ranges from students out of high school to older displaced workers seeking a new career, Joy said. There is also an increase in the number of husband-wife over the road driving teams.
Salary for a CDL driver usually starts at $40,000 a year, he said.
“You have to be able to tolerate going out over the road,” Joy said. “A lot of people want to drive locally. You will be more successful if you put in the time and pay some dues. The industry is changing. They are much more conscious of getting folks home on the weekends.”
After the course, which costs $4,800, students will take a written exam and then a driving test at the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“The challenge for them is to take memory work and apply it to practical application,” instructor Ed Mullins said about the students he has taught over the past 12 years.
Starting in mid-January the training center plans to offer a weekend CDL course over eight-weeks. Those interested in the course, can contact the center at (740) 377-4550.