Philly Community College program aims to fight nationwide truck driver shortage

The non-credit program launches in September, officials said

By: - July 27, 2022 12:14 pm

By Chanel Hill

PHILADELPHIA — The Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is introducing students to the possibility of a career in truck driving through a new non-credit Commercial Truck Driving program.

The program, which will launch in September, will have CCP partnering with Ancora Education, a Texas-based company that provides competitive skills-based training to thousands of students and employees yearly. The classes will be available through the college’s Corporate Solutions Department.

“We’ve been wanting to create a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program at CCP for quite some time as that’s a trade that is high in demand, but we never had the space for the program,” said Carol de Fries, vice president of workforce and economic innovation at CCP.

“Ancora has the expertise and they have worked with other community colleges across the country to launch successful CDL training programs, so we thought the partnership with them would just be perfect,” she added. “We’re really excited about the program and seeing it come to fruition.”

The four-week 160-hour program, which will be at the Northeast Regional Center, will provide students with a combination of classroom learning and behind the wheel on the road training to prepare students for the CDL Class A exam.

For more information on CCP’s truck driving program, visit the college’s website.

Class A CDL licenses are issued to adults who are 18 years or older who have demonstrated their qualifications to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Participants of the program must have a driver license, valid CDL permit and clean motor vehicle record prior to registering and will have to complete the Department of Transportation drug screen and physical.

The program will comply with the new Entry Level Driver Training rules, established by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration in February.

“The program will be focused on light trucks, which can really support the needs of the local economy as individuals would be able to remain more local instead of long haul trucking,” de Fries said.

“We’re hoping that we can run cohorts consecutively to be able to meet the volume that we think we will have,” she added. “There will likely be five individuals per cohort. We want to be able to run it continuously and do it quickly.”

The program at CCP comes as the country is facing a truck driver shortage, contributing to a disruption in the supply chain.

Every year, trucks move nearly $800 billion in gross freight revenue, representing more than 80.4 percent of the nation’s freight.

However, a nationwide shortage of qualified drivers has had a significant impact in the supply chain, with more than 80,000 truck drivers needed to return the industry to the necessary employment levels, according to the American Trucking Association.

Over the next decade, the industry will have to recruit nearly 1 million new drivers into the industry to replace retiring drivers and drivers that leave voluntarily or involuntarily.

“There are over 6,000 openings in the local market for individuals who have CDL licenses and the need for professional truck drivers show no signs of slowing down,” de Fries said.

“The average entry level job is around $50,000, but we know many make a lot more than that as they gain experience as well,” she said. “By offering a CDL program at CCP, we’re able to serve both the students who are interested in starting this career as well as our local business partners who are struggling to find enough drivers for the workforce.”

De Fries added that the CDL program is a way for “Philadelphians to have a good job through training.”

“There are so many pathways out there for individuals who might not be able to get into a two-year degree program right away, but they can earn training, certifications and skills that can get them employed,” de Fries said.

“We want to be able to provide more of those pathways as an intuition and as a college that serves our community.”

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.