Soon J. F. Ingram State Technical College students will be able to join the hundreds of Alabamians who earn a living in the trucking industry. In October the College began offering an eight-week commercial truck driver training program. One month later representatives of the Forest Workforce Training Institute visited the college to meet with program participants and discuss job opportunities.
“The visit from the forestry professionals reflects the constant demand for commercial truck drivers in Alabama, a factor that strongly influenced our decision to offer this program,” said ISTC president Annette Funderburk. “Also, our partners at the Department of Corrections have provided us with great resources essential to the program’s success.”
Those resources include vehicles and practice space. “ADOC has donated two trucks and a trailer for the program,” said Funderburk. “They have also designated a secure space where students can practice the testing requirements.”
Truck driving instructor Allen Johnson said enrollment is currently limited to students who are eligible for work release. “This not only meets ADOC security requirements,” said Johnson, “these are learners who can put their skills into practice immediately.”
ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn echoed Johnson’s comment, indicating that some graduates may have an opportunity to drive for Alabama Corrections Industries when they have earned their Class A commercial driver’s license.
Another factor impacting the decision to offer a CDL program at Ingram was 2018 legislation creating the Alabama Hardship Driver License, which extends limited driving privileges to select groups, including those who have been under the supervision of the department of corrections.
“The availability of the hardship license significantly increases the number of students who can take advantage of this training program,” said Funderburk. “It also provides students with a short-term solution to the very significant employment barrier presented by a lack of documentation.”
In addition to time in the driving simulator and behind the wheel, CDL students will spend a portion of their training in the college Diesel Mechanics program. “They’ll learn basic maintenance and troubleshooting,” explained diesel mechanics instructor Randy Hull, “skills which will increase their safety, and be a real benefit when they apply for a job.”
When they do begin their job search, Ingram graduates will find plenty of demand for licensed, qualified long-haul drivers. A July 2019 Bloomberg report predicts that the U.S. trucker shortage will more than double over the next decade, while the American Trucking Association reported that the driver deficit totaled over 60,000 jobs in 2018.
To learn more about the Alabama Hardship Driver License visit: https://www.alea.gov/dps/driver-license/license-and-id-cards/hardship-driver-license
Photo: (From left) Alabama Community College representatives LaShanda Hails and Gary Weaver joined ISTC president Annette Funderburk, and Forest Workforce Training Institute representatives Ashely Watts Rowe and Stephanie Fuller discuss job opportunities with students enrolled in the College’s new commercial truck driving program.