The demand for commercial drivers to haul goods from the growing logistics center in the region has led to a partnership that will bring additional truck driving training to the Dayton area.
Montgomery County on Monday approved a plan to let Butler Technology and Career Development Schools expand its truck driver training into Dayton.
Commercial drivers are the most wanted workers on the Ohio Jobs and Family Services online job site, which lists more than 3,400 jobs for the occupation in west Ohio.
“There’s a huge demand because of the confluence of (Interstates) 70 and 75, of transportation and logistics industry companies,” said Scott Palmer, executive director for adult education at Butler Tech.
The county is situated so that anyone moving goods can reach about 60 percent of the U.S. population within a day’s drive, said Michael Norton-Smith, a county development specialist.
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“This program will really be an asset for our existing companies,” Norton-Smith said.
Central State University’s Dayton campus off Germantown Street will provide the classroom space for the commercial driver’s license training, said Michael Beauchat, a Butler Tech spokesman. A parking area owned by the Foodbank Inc., off Washington Street south of Central State property will provide an area for students to practice driving big rigs, he said.
Palmer called the agreement “a big deal.”
There is “pent-up demand for CDL training in Montgomery County,” Palmer said. “Thanks to our good partners here in Montgomery County, we’re able to offer on-site CDL training in Dayton.”
Palmer said Butler Tech will be the only provider of CDL training with an attached driving practice area in Dayton.
“There’s a huge demand for the career,” Beauchat said. “Any career tech center in the state of Ohio, we’re really focusing on providing education for in-demand jobs.”
Trucking companies have long approached Butler Tech for drivers, Beauchat said. They attempt to recruit students before they even finish the training program.
“Our instructors say it’s almost to the point where the students are interviewing the companies, not the other way around,” Beauchat said.
Butler Tech’s CDL job placement rate for graduating students is “close to 100 percent if not 100 percent,” he added.
Pedro Martinez, provost and vice president of Central State University, said the program is “a great opportunity” to help raise local incomes. According to Department of Labor/American Trucking Associations data commissioners were shown, the 2015 median annual income for truck drivers was $40,000.
Once the preparations are made for the driving practice pad, Butler Tech plans a “soft rollout” for the program in late November to perhaps mid-December. Enrollment and advertising for the program would then start in the first quarter of 2017, Beauchat said.
The Butler Tech CDL program at the school’s Liberty Twp. campus launched in 2014. Palmer envisions the Montgomery County program having a capacity of 10 to 15 students.
Use of the Foodbank’s parking lot as a drive pad will net the Foodbank $6,000 a year in income, commissioners were told. The county has agreed to move a community garden currently at the lot to a nearby location, with a barrier to protect the garden in its new site from trucks, Norton-Smith said.
Michelle Riley, chief executive of the Foodbank, called the agreement a “win-win,” and thanked county officials for agreeing to move the garden.
“We thought outside of the box, didn’t we, to make this happen,” Commissioner Dan Foley said.
There’s strong demand not just for truckers, but for school bus drivers. This program will not address that need, however.
Dayton Public Schools and more than 20 area schools districts advertised for substitute drivers in the Dayton Area School Employment Consortium recently.
Tim Barrett, assistant superintendent of the county Educational Service Center, said drivers are needed across the state.
“The last couple years it has gotten much tougher to get drivers or substitutes,” Barrett recently told the Dayton Daily News. “I think the No. 1 reason is definitely the economy picking up … that there’s a shortage of people out there to work.”
Staff Writer Jeremy Kelley contributed to this story.