CPCC truck driving program graduates 80 students since opening in 2016

last modified Jun 19, 2017 09:29 AM

To help meet a rapidly growing demand for drivers in the Charlotte region, Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) launched a truck-driving certificate program in January 2016. JPMorgan Chase provided much needed assistance by awarding a $180,000 grant for start-up expenses including instructors and a high-tech truck-driving simulator.

Since the program opened, 80 students have graduated and earned their commercial driver’s license. The program’s current class has 36 students.

Workforce studies continue to find a critical shortage of truck drivers in the Charlotte region, with approximately 2,600 driver openings. The American Trucking Association points to a nationwide truck driver shortage of 48,000. Starting salaries for truckers are around $34,000, while the average annual salary in the Charlotte region is $55,000.

CPCC’s program prepares individuals for entry-level positions as local or long-distance drivers of commercial motor vehicles, tractor-trailers, heavy trucks, dump trucks and tankers.

“We like the students coming from CPCC because they get top-notch training, their education is top-notch, they have some of the best trainers and instructors in the area, and everyone we get are top-quality drivers for our company,” said Rick Hendrick, field-recruiter eastern region, McElroy Truck Lines Inc. “The great thing about our partnership with CPCC is that we can take students directly from training and immediately have them working for our company. If they graduate on Friday, we can have them at our company’s orientation on Monday and start paying them.”

The program is based at CPCC’s Merancas Campus, in Huntersville, N.C. The state-of-the-art truck-driving simulator gives students an authentic dashboard representation with actual gauges and other instrumentation. Providing a realistic driving experience before taking students on the road is an important aspect of the program.

“We have been successful in recruiting CPCC students to our truck driving training program. The candidates work out really well for several of the positions we have available,” said Melissa Nishan, director of recruiting, EPES Transport System Inc. “We have short-haul, we have dedicated, we have over the road and local, and CPCC students can choose to focus on one of these roles after they are done training.”

In addition to training on the driving simulator, students in the program gain hands-on training in inspecting and handling tractor trailers and focus on defensive driving skills, federal safety regulations and cargo care.

“The college views the truck driving program as being critical to the region’s economic development and our efforts to become a global hub of commerce,” explained Richard Zollinger, CPCC vice president for learning and workforce development. “With the success of the intermodal rail yard at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and the region’s efforts to recruit more advanced manufacturing operations and distribution centers, the already high demand for truck drivers will only increase in the coming years.”

For more information about CPCC’s truck-driving certificate program, contact David Favre, director of the CPCC Transport Systems Division, at david.favre@cpcc.edu or 704.330.4150.