Aug. 08–DIXON — Sauk Valley Community College is ramping up its commercial driver’s license training, adding classes to funnel more workers into the region’s top-growing occupation.
For the past decade, the college has offered a CDL course in the summer, fall and spring through an agreement with Illinois Valley Community College.
Sauk recently formed a new partnership with 160 Driving Academy to offer more frequent courses. The first of those classes — one of five that will be offered this semester — runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 15.
“We felt there was a real need to offer the class more often,” said Brenda Helms, community education coordinator at Sauk.
The demand for heavy and semitrailer truck drivers increased 32 percent from 2011 to 2016, adding 720 jobs — going from 2,285 to 3,005 — in Lee, Whiteside, Ogle, Bureau, Carroll, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, and Putnam counties, according to a regional State of the Workforce report released last month by the Business Employment Skills Team Inc.
That number is projected to grow 15 percent, which means 459 more jobs in the next 5 years.
“The truck driving industry is a high-demand occupation, and we wanted to better serve our community so when they finish their training, they can find employment,” Helms said.
The 4-week class — a week of classroom work and 3 weeks behind the wheel — runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Each will have four to eight students.
It is offered free of charge through a job placement program, and financial aid is available for veterans or those who are unemployed or underemployed.
The cost is $4,695 or $4,520 if students pay by cash, check or card, which includes a drug test, a physical and the permit needed for the Class A license.
Students can sign up for the first class as late as Aug. 16, but if they are not paying everything up front, they must have made payment arrangements with the college by Monday, which is a week before it begins.
The other dates are Sept. 11 to Oct. 6, Oct. 2 to Oct. 27, Oct. 23 to Nov. 17 and Nov. 13 to Dec. 8.
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