In 2018, the nation’s over-the-road trucking industry reached a shortage of 60,800 drivers even though 3.5 million commercial drivers were employed last year. As the shortage continues to grow, the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that industries’ need for tractor-trailer drivers who hold a Class A Commercial Drivers License (CDL) will reach a demand for over 1.1 million new hires across the United States by 2028 due to aging employees and manufacturing growth.
At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, Del Mar College (DMC) and Coastal Bend College (CBC) leadership signed a Transportation Training Agreement as a partnering initiative to meet the need for commercial truck drivers in South Texas, particularly in the CBC service area in Atascosa and surrounding counties. The signing ceremony took place at the CBC Cougar Center in Pleasanton where CDL training will occur by the DMC Transportation Training Services program offered through CBC’s Continuing Education.
“The partnership between Coastal Bend College and Del Mar College will allow CBC to provide access to training, licensure and certification in the commercial truck driving industry in our service area and beyond,” said Joseph A. Hayen, director of CBC Continuing Education. “Our collaboration will help fill the gap in the shortage of drivers in South Texas while providing our residents with a very good wage and standard of living.”
John Rojas, director of the DMC Transportation Training Services program, added, “Coastal Bend College’s Pleasanton location will assist the initiative with filling many commercial drivers positions locally and in the San Antonio and Eagle Ford Shale areas.” He noted that Del Mar College’s program currently works with over 60 Texas companies needing drivers as well as with several national carriers, which gives program graduates who complete their certification access to potential employers.
“This partnership is a great opportunity for both colleges to assist our South Texas communities by offering valuable training to fill a growing demand for professional truck drivers,” Rojas added.
Based in Corpus Christi, the DMC Transportation Training Services program trains on average about 500 students each year locally. Rojas says that partners anticipate a targeted range of 100 to 150 students annually at the Pleasanton location once the program begins in late October or early November.
The four-week program, which equates to 200 clock hours, includes classroom, over-the-road and simulation training. Students get hands-on experience while learning how to hack and drive tractor-trailer rigs, along with instruction about the rules of the road by faculty with real-world experience.
To qualify for the program, individuals must meet the following requirements:
hold a valid Texas drivers license,
be at least 18 years of age,
have no more than 3 moving violations on their driving record for the past 3 years, and
pass a Texas Department of Transportation physical and drug screen.
Tuition is $4,500. However, the earning potential for entry-level commercial drivers their first year ranges from $45,000 up to $80,000 in the South Texas region according to Rojas, who added that the cost through commercial training facilities can range from $5,000 to $8,000.
He also noted that once the program is established in Pleasanton, the two colleges will collaborate to offer tuition assistance, such as grants, scholarships and the post 9-11 GI Bill, among other means.
DMC’s Transportation Training Services is part of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Third Party Skills Testing Program and moves students through the certification process faster by eliminating the four- to eight-week wait for DPS testing after they finish the program. Del Mar College provides CDL examinations onsite at the West Campus in Corpus Christi as well as the required vehicle inspections and driving tests administered by certified DMC instructors at the College’s trucking yard.
While CDL third party testing by DMC’s program is currently available only in Corpus Christi, Rojas said that eventually another site will be established in Pleasanton.
There’s opportunity for more women to join the trucking industry, too. The ATA noted in their report, Truck Driver Shortage Analysis 2019, that out of the country’s workforce among over-theroad commercial drivers, women made up only 6.6% in 2018. DMC’s CDL training program had 16 female students, or 3.62%, among the 442 students trained last year.
To learn more about the program and available training opportunities, contact DMC Transportation Training Services at 361-698-2707, 1-800-652-3357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.