North Platte Community College announces CDL training
North Platte Community College’s Business and Community Education department will roll out a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training course later this month.
An extension of the college’s “Motor School,” the program is designed to address a shortage of drivers for the third largest industry in the state.
“In Nebraska, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers are at the top as far as needs go,” said Jeff Smeltzer, BCE coordinator. “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.”
H3 occupations are defined as high wage, high demand and high skill. An occupation’s demand ranking is based on three factors: number of annual openings, net change in employment and growth rate.
According to the Nebraska Trucking Association, truckers carry more than 82 percent of all freight in Nebraska, and about half of the state’s communities get everything they need solely from a truck.
Keeping the supply chain moving, requires bodies in seats. The Nebraska Department of Labor is predicting 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. The average number of annual openings for truck drivers in Nebraska is 3,438.
Employment is projected to grow six percent at the national level, with an average of about 231,100 openings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“There are a number of factors contributing to the demand,” said Smeltzer. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average age of truck drivers as 55, so we’re dealing with a population that is pushing retirement. Then, to kind of exacerbate that, the industry lost six percent of its drivers during the pandemic. That amounted to about 100,000 jobs in 2020 alone. Those two particular facts contributed significantly to the supply chain shortage we see today.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, much of the projected employment growth in the occupation will also be due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020. The need for truck drivers is anticipated to rise as households and businesses increase spending and demand for goods.
NPCC is trying to help meet that need. There are currently four positions still open for its Commercial Driver Training class, which will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, March 28 through April 29.
Classes will be in the W.W. Wood Building on the NPCC North Campus, 1101 Halligan Drive, North Platte.
Instruction will consist of classroom and behind-the-wheel training and will cover Class A combination air brakes commercial driver training and Entry-Level Driver Training compliance.
The goal is to prepare students to test for the CDL. The $3,950 class fee will cover the cost of both the instruction and the exam.