The West Virginia National Guard, the state Department of Education and Department of Transportation are collaborating to address a growing truck driver shortage in West Virginia.
The West Virginia Department of Education’s National Guard Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Pilot is designed to help military personnel with experience driving large trucks and other equipment to get their commercial driver’s license in a more cost-effective, speedy manner. Traditional training for a CDL license can cost up to $10,000.
Through the pilot, organized by the West Virginia Department of Education, 20 Guard members can get the necessary physicals and additional classroom and skills training for free at the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center in Upshur County. Division of Motor Vehicle examiners also will travel to the center to administer CDL tests instead of requiring participants to travel to them. They should have a valid CDL in weeks instead of months.
“This pilot allows us to help members of the National Guard put their training to good use in a much more streamlined way,” state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the pilot.
“When they are not using their driving skills for their country, they can do so for their communities as truck drivers and school bus drivers. They not only will be able to earn a nice wage to provide for their families, but also will be filling a need in our state’s work force. It is a win-win for everyone.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 the demand for truckers will increase by 330,100 from the 1.5 million drivers now on the road. Despite the job potential, these positions are difficult to fill, and even harder to keep filled.
Servicemen and women have already cleared many hurdles that keep some potential employees from earning their commercial driver’s license. Not only do they have valuable field experience driving heavy equipment and trucks, but also they often have a clean driving record and the ability to pass medical exams and regular drug testing. West Virginia employers in the coal, oil and gas fields, and other businesses are eager to hire commercial drivers with such attributes.
“The men and women of the West Virginia National Guard truly appreciate the efforts that the governor and the state agencies have put forth to make this a reality,” said Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, West Virginia’s adjutant general. “This is a great example of private industry and government working together to put programs in place to support West Virginia’s veterans.”
For more information, contact the WVDE’s Office of Communication at 304-558-2699, or visit the website at http://wvde.state.wv.us.