Guest Opinion: Upgrading Alabama’s trucking workforce
Skills-based workforce training is more important than ever in Alabama. Jefferson State Community College and other community colleges have been longtime advocates of workforce training through our Center for Workforce Education, with more than 30 fast-track programs that lead to in-demand careers.
Recently, Jefferson State created a CDL program and a Heavy Equipment Operator program at the Chilton-Clanton Campus. The CDL program was celebrated by the Clanton community and industry partners at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 3/4-mile training track in September 2022. The first class of students completed the CDL program just a few weeks later in November 2022.
When my institution’s leaders met with the business community, we heard repeatedly, “Please start a CDL program.” And, as Jefferson State President Keith Brown recently said, “There was a gap in training in this part of the state, and we’re excited to be able to fill that role.”
Since its inception, thousands of people have expressed interest in our CDL program, demonstrating the need for CDL training in Alabama. Partnerships have been vital to the program’s success. Among other supporters, the Appalachian Regional Commission supplied a grant to cover scholarships for the first four classes, and Wood Fruitticher donated a trailer and hosted students at its Birmingham facility to learn more about potential careers.
“Jefferson State’s CDL and heavy equipment operator graduates are ready for employment, and they are immediately getting job offers,” said Jefferson State Director of Workforce Education Leah Bigbee. “With the high demand for these positions, we see our graduates start new careers with great companies almost every day.”
We are a proud partner with the Alabama Trucking Association and continue to work on efforts across our region to bring awareness to the trucking industry being a viable and worthy career for young adults across the state, realizing that one in 13 jobs in Alabama is in the trucking industry. As a training coordinator at Jefferson State, my mission is to serve our community and our business and industry partners, matching our talented and skilled students with our company partners after successfully going through our CDL training.
The Center for Workforce Education at Jefferson State Community College delivers fast-track skills training designed to quickly train individuals for immediate employment. Our full portfolio of non-credit training covers healthcare, IT, manufacturing, craft training, and business sectors and is ever-evolving to accommodate the needs of employers in the state of Alabama. Our programs often only require a high school diploma, or a GED and a government-issued ID. The Center for Workforce Education also offers a CDL Corporate Simulator Training program. Learn more at jeffersonstate.edu/cdl.
We encourage you to “find your place” at Jefferson State and contact our office to make an appointment with a Career Coach to learn more: (205) 856-7710 or email@example.com.
If you’re looking for training opportunities elsewhere in Alabama, check out Alabama Trucking’s skills training website at www.alabamatrucking.org/careers. There, you’ll find a wealth of resources to help you or someone you know start their journey to becoming a commercial driver or master new skills as a diesel technician. Exciting opportunities await in Alabama’s growing trucking industry, and I am proud to be a part of that journey.
Alex Blevins is a training coordinator for Jefferson State Community College’s Center for Workforce Education. He may be reached at (205) 856-7710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.