VCs truck driving program thriving; local industries vying for students

VC's truck used to train drivers in the CDL truck driving program

This fall, VC’s Workforce and Continuing Education Department enrolled its largest truck driving class to date with 14 new students. Prior to this fall, the all-time high enrollment for the truck driving class was 11.

“The Eagle Ford Shale activity has increased the need for drivers in the oilfield industry throughout the region,” said Sherri Pall, director of workforce and continuing education. “This has created a shortage of drivers across all industries.”

“We’re seeing employers vying for our students during the first week of class,” added Pall. “These students should have multiple job offers before they even finish the program and that is a true exception in this job market.”

Some companies actively recruiting drivers include Coca Cola, Schenider National, Sunoco and Stallion Services. Some employers are even offering tuition assistance for drivers.

“We have 100 open positions in the area driving locally with full benefits,” said Joe Phillips, manager of driver recruiting for Schneider National. “And we’re offering tuition reimbursement up to $3,500 for the training if we are the first company they work for out of school.”

Currently, Coca Cola has four driver positions open and according to Leon Goins, distribution center manager, driving for Coca Cola isn’t just a job, it’s a career.

“We offer a complete benefit package,” said Goins. “We also donate to local community projects such as little league and our drivers are local, so they can be home with their families every night.”

Sunoco has approximately 20 jobs currently open in the Bay City area with 60 more opening up in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas starting in January.

These industries also face challenges as they pursue employees. The most notable challenge is passing potential employees through a background check. For Sunoco, many candidates don’t even get to the hiring process if they fail to meet their requirement of living within 60 miles of the work site.

As far as choosing where to recruit, local employers don’t hesitate to turn to VC first. In addition to convenient location, these companies all state that they prefer recruiting truck drivers from VC’s program due to its established reputation as a creditable, quality program where they can count on recruiting well-trained, qualified employees.

"Victoria College has a quality course and it is community based—that’s something Schneider looks for when working with a program,” said Phillips.

“Our truck driving program is expanding so quickly due to this local demand, we’re now offering this program at our Gonzales location in addition to the one in Victoria,” said Pall. “This is an incredibly lucrative, in-demand field right now and we expect our numbers to continue to grow.”

Published: Thursday, 10 November 2011

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