Conexus Indiana and Ivy Tech Community College launched what they say is the nation’s first training program for commercial truck drivers covered by federal student loans.
The CDL+ curriculum will be offered beginning January 2021 at Ivy Tech’s campuses in Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Lawrenceburg, Evansville, and Terre Haute. These sites are currently enrolling students.
Developed by Conexus Indiana in partnership with the Indiana Motor Truck Association, Venture Logistics and Ivy Tech with a Indiana Department of Workforce Development grant, the CDL+ program elevates the training for new commercial truck drivers while eliminating financial barriers to entry.
Ivy Tech said the CDL+ is the first eligible for federal student loans, which required both state and federal legislation and approval from the U.S. Department of Education. The state is also working to ensure CDL+ is eligible for Workforce Ready Grants.
“Shortages of truck drivers have been a pervasive problem for years, and only magnified by COVID-19, which has led to significant increases in online shopping,” said Bryce Carpenter, vice president of industry engagement for Conexus Indiana. “In response to this ongoing and growing critical need, Conexus Indiana worked with its network of logistics industry leaders to identify the barriers.”
He said it became clear quickly that some students interested in pursuing careers in truck, were held back by the cost of earning a certificate.
“Companies spent an inordinate amount of time and money training drivers before they could get to work,” Carpenter said. “The CDL+ program addresses all of these obstacles.”
CDL+ is a 17-credit-hour certificate, which can be completed in one semester. Students will have 160 hours of training, which prepares them to become a Class A Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) holder. The program includes 121 hours of operating observation, 30 hours of behind-the-wheel skill development, an eight-week internship, an overview of logistics and transportation which includes all types of trucking operations including intermodal processes.
There is also a focus on professionalism and customer service.
“Ivy Tech’s core mission is to provide students across the state access to an education that prepares them for a rewarding career,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech. “With insight from our industry partners, we designed a program that removes financial barriers for students, gives them educational credits for future career development and delivers a work-ready workforce for trucking companies.”
The American Trucking Association projects the freight volumes are expected to grow 36% over the next decade. Over that same period, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers to keep up with demand.
Ivy Tech’s Northwest and North Central Indiana campus locations include, East Chicago, Gary, Goshen, La Porte, Michigan City, South Bend and Valparaiso.