HAMLET — Truck driver training at Richmond Community College just got a lot more appealing thanks to a drastic reduction in the program’s cost.
Originally priced at $2,500, students can now complete the entire course from start to finish — including getting their commercial driver licenses through the college — for $990.
Wylie Bell, director of communications for RCC, said the price drop for the training was a result of state Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, rallying for funds.
“Tom McInnis was instrumental in getting state funding channeled down to RCC through Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute to make the course more affordable to the people within our community,” Bell said. “We tried offering the course before, but the price tag was too high for a lot of people. Despite the high payoff once someone enters this career choice, the upfront cost for getting a CDL has been a deterrent for many prospective students.”
Bell said that because of McInnis’ work to secure additional funding for the class, RCC was able to slash the price by more than $1,500.
Joe Everett of Superior Cranes in Rockingham said he is hopeful the class will be packed.
“Absolutely, we need truck drivers,” Everett said. “We need good, well-trained truck drivers and we need more of them. Our drivers, we have about 70 road tractors, we could hire 10 right now if they were well-trained and suitable for the job.”
Everett also mentioned local companies like Perdue and Delco, Inc.
“What we need, like any other industry, is well-trained, well-qualified young people to learn the industry and get into the industry,” Everett said. “Old people are retiring. You’re on the road every day. If any industry wants to move to our area, what they will want to know is the demographics of the area and if they can do the job it needs them to do.”
Everett said Richmond County’s economic development depends on the availability of skilled workers who know how to do jobs that industries need done, and that without them, the county is more likely to be passed over by companies looking for places to locate.
Recent partnerships between RCC and Richmond County Schools as well as existing industries in and around the county have helped the community college to create demand-driven programs with graduates ready to enter the workforce.
Bell said having a CDL can open doors to many opportunities, and the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics supports her statement.
According to the bureau, the median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $38,200 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than the amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,110, and the top 10 percent earned more than $58,910.
The bureau predicts that demand for drivers who have a CDL will grow 11 percent between now and 2022, so jobs should be plentiful.
The course begins Nov. 2 and runs through Jan. 29. Each student will be required to attend an orientation session before class starts on Nov. 2.
To learn more or sign up, call 910-410-1706 or send email to [email protected]
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.