Looking forward to putting a recently acquired dump truck into service at the CDL Training Center at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center are (from left) instructor James Billing, student Ryan Engstrom of New Milford, instructor Brian Eso, and students Matthew Orr of Meshoppen and Brendan Connolly of Montrose.
The arrival of a dump truck at the Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center CDL Training Center on Feb. 1 was another solid step in the expansion of the Center and the services it provides to the community. Shiny and red and looking like it was just driven off a showroom floor, it’s hard to believe that the 1999 Kenworth is as old as it is.
“It’s in beautiful shape,” said CDL Training Center instructor Brian Eso, as a number of students and faculty were getting their first look at the new addition to a fleet that now features four different trailers, as well a 2009 Peterbilt, a 2016 Kenworth extended cab, and a 2012 Freightliner purchased in December 2021. The dump truck allows the school to expand training and certification for Class A, B, and C licenses.
“We’re happy where we are,” SCCTC executive director Alice Davis remarked. “It took us a while to get to this point.” The dump truck was purchased from contractor Steve Borel using with adult funding reserves. Davis credited with giving the school a very fair deal. The SCCTC also applied for a matching grant with the Appalachian Regional Commission to help keep down tuition costs.
As of Feb. 7, students entering the program will need to obtain a permit prior to the start of instruction as per a federal mandate. “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires the new Entry-Level Drivers Training (ELDT) requirements for all commercial drivers licenses,” Davis explained. The SCCTC is an approved FMSCA site and can now provide that training. Prior to obtaining the EDLT, she added, “All CDL candidates are required to have an occupational physical from an approved provider that meets DOT requirements, which includes the SCCTC. This also includes a drug test/screening.”
The school is also now a FMSCA-approved testing site, she noted. Previously, students had to go to another PennDOT-approved location in Dunmore or Mansfield. The CDL testing sequence is as follows: ELDT at SCCTC, PA permit test at PA DMV, ELDT BTH (Behind the Wheel) driving training at the SCCTC, and CDL drivers license testing at the SCCTC testing site.” Additionally, if someone is training for their CDL license independently, they can now arrange for testing at SCCTC.
Even before a driver is certified, SCCTC personnel are busy lining them up with prospective employers. “Not only do we train them, we work hard to place them,” said Davis.
Demand for certified drivers continues to exceed enrollment, which all but guarantees that graduates move directly into the workforce. “Many of our students get multiple job offers and pick what works best for them,” Eso explained.
At least nine companies maintain information about job opportunities on a table just inside the classroom building, assistant executive director John Gazzillo noted. Many of the same outfits also have representatives on the Training Center’s Advisory Board, which keeps faculty up to date on the needs and evolution of the trucking industry.
“Twice a year, the Board reviews the program and tells us what we need,” David related.
“It’s always good input,” Eso added. They also frequently conduct mini job fairs for recruitment purposes, he noted, citing recent visits by SGFS and Eastern Freight Systems.
“We are excited for the growth of the program,” said Bill desRosiers, external affairs manager for Coterra, which assisted in the purchase of the Freightliner (below). “Additional trucks allow for more student drive time on the training center pad or the road. It also allows flexibility to schedule maintenance on the other vehicles, ensuring that students are getting their training hours in.”
The next five-week day sessions course will run from March 21 to April 29, and applications are now being accepted. Tuition assistance and/or grants may be available to eligible candidates, including dual enrollment credits for high school seniors who are at least 18 years old. To find out more, interested parties may contact financial aid coordinator Tammi Mowry at SCCTC at 570-278-9229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.