California Curriculum Addresses Truck Driver Shortage

by Jana Ritter - Published: 7/09/2013

Long Beach City College has partnered with the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA) to offer a curriculum that addressed the shortage of licensed, short-haul truck drivers qualified to transport goods in and out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The first class of graduates is ready to work and there is no shortage of jobs awaiting them.

Two trucks

This one-of-a-kind program allows students to interact with truck driver employees in the classrooms, while supporting the local industry to attract and retain licensed drivers. “I feel we are well prepared and much more well rounded than your average graduate that just goes to a trucking school for a couple of weeks. We learned so much more...we have a much more broader experience of information and abilities we can offer to various employers," said Steve Goodwin, LBCC truck graduate.

"When we first started, we were in a classroom environment and we learned the basics-the ins and outs of the trucking industry. We also studied entrepreneurship for becoming independent operators. We also studied green trucking-clean fuels. We also had a safety course as well as job preparation courses. We also had behind-the-wheel training for our California commercial driver's license," said Goodwin.

The Commercial Driver Training program also takes care of one of the biggest barriers to hiring a new driver: insurance. “We’ve reduced that barrier by working with an excellent insurance broker that's gone to the underwriters and have gotten these drivers approved no matter what company policy we're working with—this allows us to bring them on right away," said Fred Johring, Chairman of the Harbor Trucking Association.

LBCC aggressively competed for a grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office to fund the truck program. It received $440,000 for two years. It's part of the college's focus on training people in five key regional industries.

"We strategically focus on advanced transportation, logistics, alternative fuel, green technology, healthcare, business development and homeland security. For us, when we go after resources, we go after resources to fund training that will drive our economy," said Lou Anne Bynum, Executive Vice President of the College of Advancement and Economic Development at LBCC.

Strengthening their efforts, LBCC just got word it received another grant from the Department of Transportation. The college will be doing the same things with this grant but targeting veterans in the region.

"L.A.'s got about 340,000 vets that have come home the last few years and we expect another 125,000 the next two to three years and they have an unemployment rate of about 18 percent versus the county, at about 10.5 percent. This is going to be our focus," said Bynum.

Bynum said the Port of Long Beach is the second busiest container port in the nation, which saw a dramatic increase in cargo earlier this year. The demand for licensed drivers is only going to go up.