It was last August when Great Falls College-MSU launched their Commercial Driver's License Program after receiving $388,000 in ARPA funds. So far, 26 students are enrolled in the program and there are more than a dozen business partners, assisting students with the necessary training needed to become a CDL truck driver.
The American Trucking Association estimated that the trucking shortage hit a historic high of about 80,000 drivers and could surpass 160,000 in 2030.
GFC-MSU Lifelong Learning interim director Tammie Hickey stated, "It's very collaborative working with businesses in getting this training for quality workers to fill the need that they have. Great Falls College is the registered training provider under the new ELDT mandate. Each business partner that collaborates with us, we add them as a location under our umbrella, so it's our responsibility to make sure if we're audited, to make sure we're in compliance with everything.
Hickey described the collaboration with business partners.
"It's very comprehensive," she said. "All business come in the first day of class, and there's a recruitment time, so they get the opportunity to talk with the students, and they have a one-on-one speed interview ... The students get to have a choice of where they'd like to transition to for employment, and then we get back together with the businesses at the end. The magic is placing the students with the businesses in which they want to work because we're providing great employees for these businesses in this career field."
Meadow Gold Dairy is one of the business partners for Great Falls College-MSU.
Distribution Manager, John Maynez said this collaboration is not only important for the students themselves, but also for their business, and to a larger extent, the trucking industry.
"We've been in great need of truck drivers, Maynez said. Especially in the past few years, during Covid, we had a great exodus of commercial drivers out of the business, not only here in the state of Montana, but out of the country, so it's been very challenging finding qualified and willing participants to become CDL Drivers."
Despite some of the challenges, Maynez said this program has provided all sorts of benefits to the students themselves as well as the College's businesses partners.
"I think that we're making an impact in our community which is huge, Maynez noted. "Our program incorporates immediate job placement because we work so closely with businesses, I think it's a win-win for everyone."
Classes will continue at Great Falls College-MSU on January 9th. Beginning February 7th, 2022, individuals obtaining their CDL for the first time must go through a training provider.
For more information, you can call the college at 406.771.5104, or visit the website.
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