Demand remains high for CDL/motorcycle training
It has been two years since Mid-Plains Community College launched its motorcycle safety training program in North Platte, but demand hasn’t slowed down. If anything - it has intensified.
“We are very excited that the program continues to grow,” said Jeff Smeltzer, BCE coordinator. “We weren’t sure if we would be able to maintain the momentum, but nearly every class has been full.”
The motorcycle safety training program was started in the summer of 2020 as an extension of the Motor School, operated through MPCC’s Business and Community Education department. It is the only motorcycle safety training program of its kind between Kearney and Cheyenne.
A total of 51 students attended the first nine Basic Rider classes that were offered. By January of 2021, the decision was made to increase the number of classes to 20. Those also filled immediately.
Geared toward beginning and returning riders, the Basic Rider Course consists of 15 hours of hands-on motorcycle training and a three-hour online class.
Through it, students learn the fundamentals of becoming safe and responsible motorcycle riders and gain an understanding of the physical and mental skills required for operating a motorcycle in everyday road situations. No previous experience is necessary to participate.
“We have had riders come in from Lincoln, Gering and everywhere in between,” Smeltzer said. “We even created a special mid-week class for the U.S. Army Reserve.”
A total of 202 riders have completed the 43 classes offered so far. Another 24 riders will round out the remaining four courses scheduled through October of this year – all of which are full.
The Motor School’s Commercial Driver’s License training has proven to be just as popular. The course was rolled out in March to address a shortage of drivers for Nebraska’s third largest industry.
Smeltzer said heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are at the top as far as needs go in the state. They have been #1 on the Nebraska Department of Labor’s Top 10 H3 Occupations by Demand list every year since the list was produced in 2008.
The Nebraska Department of Labor predicts an 8.74 percent growth rate for the industry. A total of 28,994 truckers were employed in the state in 2016, and that figure is expected to increase to 31,529 by 2026. As of Wednesday, there were 700 job openings in Nebraska advertised online for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.
The college offered a Commercial Learner’s Permit Test Prep Class in January ahead of its CDL Training. The permit is required to obtain a CDL and is also a precondition to the upgrade of a CDL if the upgrade requires a skills test. Twenty-nine students attended the test prep class.
The series of five-week CDL classes officially began in February of 2022. Seventeen drivers went through the three initial classes, and another nine drivers are signed up for additional classes in August and October.
“Everyone who has gone through our CDL classes has had jobs lined up when they leave,” Smeltzer said. “The college helps them with that. We have carriers come in and speak to the students and also offer a jobs board listing current openings.”
A few seats remain in the CDL session that begins Oct. 3. Those interested in obtaining more information about the course or in registering for it can do so online at bceregister.mpcc.edu, by calling Smeltzer at (308) 535-3687 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.