Photo by Victor Cuevas
Just a few weeks after graduating the first class of trained and certified short-haul truckers, Long Beach City College's Commercial Driver Training Program is already receiving another boon.
Seeing an opportunty to utilize the program to help the area's out-of-work veterans, the college was recently awarded a $211,733 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to expand the program to train veterans and military families for jobs in transportation.
The grant is about half of what the California Community College Chancellor's Office gave to help launch the program and will provide funding for 60 veterans and their spouses to get behind-the-wheel training in the hopes of moving them into secure jobs at the Port of Long Beach.
Post 9/11 veterans have one of the highest unemployment rates--nearly 20% in Los Angeles County alone. School officials say that recruitment will occur in partnership with US Vets, the Villages of Cabrillo, PGWIN and LBCC's Veterans Office.
"I applaud the Department of Transportation’s commitment to providing workforce pathways for our veterans and families to civilian life and jobs,” said LBCC Superintendent-President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Having served four years in the U.S. Army, I understand the necessity of directly linking the needs of our veterans with the economic needs of our region. Our college is honored to be the bridge of these two needs with this grant.”
LBCC's Commercial Driver Training Program was created through a partnership with the Harbor Trucking Association last year to fill workforce gaps left by both environmental and Homeland Security regulations. In 2012 alone, the number of licensed drivers able to move goods in and out of local ports dropped by 7000, crippling the already thin workforce.
Through classroom experience provided by trucking companies and current drivers, program graduates obtain a Class A California drivers licence and a Transportation Worker Identification Card, both of which are required for port jobs. They also earn a Hazardous Materials Endorsement and a completion certificate that proves their eligibility for employment.
The next class of ten students will begin truck-driver training in August. Priority will be given for veteran applicants.
For more information on the Commercial Driver Training Program, call LBCC Workforce Development at (562) 938-3221.