By STACY MILLBERG - firstname.lastname@example.org
The growing need for licensed CDL drivers has prompted a partnership among several entities to bring a truck driving school to the county.
A recent survey of local businesses, conducted by Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, revealed that one of the leading positions local businesses have a difficult time filling is CDL drivers.
Ashtabula County Community Action Agency conducts community assessments and one thing it found its clients were looking for was job training, said Judith Barris, ACCAA executive director.
After hearing a presentation by Hattie Grubke-Barnard, Growth Partnership project manager, Barris said they started to look into starting a truck driving school in the county.
The closest truck driving school is in Lake County at the Auburn Career Center.
“We went looking to see what it would take to start a school and found Kreigh (Spahr), who is going to manage the program,” Barris said.
A short time later, the Action in Motion Academy was born.
It wasn’t long after that Kent State University Ashtabula Campus jumped on board and offered a place to hold the classroom portion of the program.
The first classes are expected to begin the first part of June, Barris said.
The program is licensed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
The first week of the four-week program will consist of classroom work, Spahr said. During the second through fourth weeks, students will be taught how to back up and properly drive on the road.
“We’ll be using streets and highways in the county and surrounding areas,” he said.
The program consists of 160 or more hours of training. It is an all-inclusive program, in that students pay one price that includes the cost of an Ohio Department of Transportation physical and drug screening, a learner’s permit and all costs associated with any testing for a CDL license, Spahr said.
Job placement is also part of the program, he said. While a job cannot be guaranteed, Spahr said most students will receive three to five job offers at the completion of the program.
“The industry needs over 100,000 drivers, today,” he said.
Students will begin submitting applications for potential jobs almost immediately, Spahr said.
“Truck drivers are typically in their late 50s so in the next 10 years, there will be an increasing need,” he said. “The more trucks there are, the better off we are.”
Spahr said he is working with groups such as Women in Trucking, the Ohio Trucking Association and many other industry groups.
Students are required to be a minimum of 18 years of age and have a valid, unrestricted Ohio driver’s license. They must also be able to pass a DOT physical and drug screen, he said.
Tuition cost for the program is $5,000. Spahr said the starting salary for a licensed CDL driver is between $35,000 and $55,000 a year.
He said the community has been very supportive of the endeavor and several local businesses have donated services to help get the program off the ground.
K & H Trucking, of Ashtabula, donated a truck for the program. Truckman, of Geneva; TA Petra Corporation; Goodyear Tire and Service and many other companies in the county and throughout northeast Ohio have reached out to see how they can help, Spahr said.
“This is for the community’s success,” he said. “It’s not here for any one entity.”