Clark State CDL program continues putting grads in workforce throughout pandemic

Clark State College's Springfield campus. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Clark State College's Springfield campus. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The program, with limited space, is now accepting students

Clark State College’s Commercial Transportation Training Center is continuing to put graduates into the workforce even though space is limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a release from the college.

“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. “The pandemic put a much larger spotlight on the importance of freight movement and its role in the national recovery.”

The program was put on hold in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but the college worked to meet health and safety protocols and was soon after able to accept students.

The CDL program has been operating at half capacity, but the last class still achieved a 100% pass rate and 83 students were successfully trained, the release stated. Another 15 students will be trained through the end of this year’s program.

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Before the pandemic, the college was training 10-12 students per month in the program, which is offered every four weeks, Hodge said. The college is working to build its capacity back to the pre-pandemic levels.

“We have the equipment to train 15 students a month,” Hodge said. “Currently, due to the state mandates, we can only accommodate six students per class.”

Hodge said the program is accepting students, as well as trainers. He said graduates meet 12-15 recruiters and most leave with multiple job offers.

“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,” he said.

Hodge added that starting salaries have also increased and graduates can make anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 a week depending on the workload.

“Our students are able to leave with multiple job offers for local, regional, and over the road driving lanes,” he said. “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.”

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CDL has been a top 10 in-demand occupation in Ohio for the last decade, Hodge said.

“It currently sits at number two, behind registered nurses,” he said. “Ten years ago, only 25-30% of all major motor carriers would hire students right out of school with no experience. Today, 99% of all major motor carriers will take drivers right out of CDL school.”

As for tuition assistance, Hodge said the college has a partnership with the local Ohio Means Jobs centers in the six counties within an hour from the training center.

He said the college has local lenders who provide professional loans to students, partnerships with motor carriers who sponsor their employees, other sources such as VA, BWC, VocRehab, and social service agencies such as Catholic Social Services and Pathstone.

The training center offers several truck driver programs, and students who finish obtain Class A or Class B CDL licensing and job placement assistance if needed.

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