Though space is limited due to health and safety protocols required by the state of Ohio, Clark State College’s Commercial Transportation Training Center continues to put graduates into the work force with the last class achieving a 100 percent pass rate.
In March of 2020 the CDL program was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During that time Clark State worked to meet the required health and safety protocols and were soon able to accept students.
“Commercial drivers and motor carriers are essential to the economic recovery as they deliver the goods and products needed during the pandemic and to restart our economy,” said Duane Hodge, director of the Commercial Transportation Training Center at Clark State. “The pandemic put a much larger spotlight on the importance of freight movement and its role in the national recovery.”
Despite operating at half of its normal capacity, Clark State has successfully trained 83 students and scheduled another 15 through the end of this program year.
Hodge said commercial driving has been a top 10 in-demand occupation in Ohio for the last decade.
“It currently sits at number 2, behind Registered Nurses,” said Hodge. “Ten years ago, only 25 to 30 percent of all major motor carriers would hire students right out of school with no experience. Today, 99 percent of all major motor carriers will take drivers right out of CDL school.”
Hodge said starting salaries have also increased significantly and graduates can make anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 weekly depending on their workload.
“Our students are able to leave with multiple job offers for local, regional, and over the road driving lanes,” said Hodge. “Due to the intense competition for drivers, motor carriers are offering better pay, cleaner lanes to drive in, and a host of bonuses to attract and retain drivers.”
Prior to the onset of the pandemic Clark State was training 10 to 12 students a month. He said Clark State is working to build its capacity back to the pre-pandemic levels.
“We have the equipment to train 15 students a month,” said Hodge. “Currently, due to the state mandates with can only accommodate six students per class.”
Hodge said Clark State has strong partnerships with the local Ohio Means Jobs centers in the six counties within an hour from the training center.
“We have local lenders who provide professional loans to our students. We also have partnerships with motor carriers who sponsor their employees,” said Hodge. “Other sources of student funding include the VA, BWC, VocRehab, and social service agencies like Catholic Social Services and Pathstone. Due to our excellent reputation, we also get a lot of referrals from past students.”
Clark State offers the lowest tuition in the area, graduates meet 12 to 15 recruiters, and Hodge said most leave with multiple job offers.
“Like everyone else in this industry, we are looking for good people,” said Hodge. “If you have at least three years of CDL Class A driving experience and think you would make a good trainer, please contact us. We are always looking for good people to grow our program.”
Clark State's Commercial Transportation Training Center offers several truck driver programs of varying duration and intensity, for both corporate employees and newcomers to the industry. Programs conclude with the participants obtaining Class A or Class B CDL licensing and job placement assistance if needed.