Johnson County Community College plans expansion of CDL training

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – As the demand for hiring truck drivers continues to increase, Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is looking to expand its commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program.

Elisa Waldman, vice president of workforce development and continuing education, said there are currently about 60 people on a waiting list to participate in the program.

“Demand continues to grow. We spoke with one employer last week who expects 200 more CDL drivers in the next year,” Waldman said. “Almost everyone needs truck drivers now to continue to recover the supply chain and then expand the supply chain post-pandemic.”

JCCC’s training program combines classroom learning with behind-the-wheel training to prepare students to pass the CDL test in Kansas or Missouri. The college offers students two options for CDL training: a full-time, four-week course and a 10-week weekend course.

Waldman said as enrollment continues to grow, the driving portion of the course is now being taught at three separate properties throughout the southern part of the county.

Last week, the JCCC Board of Trustees approved plans to consolidate the training grounds. The college is currently looking for approximately 10 acres of land to purchase to create a dedicated CDL training site.

The $5 million project will be funded by grants from the state, large private donations and revenue from the college’s CDL fund.

JCCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Empowering People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) program, which is funded by federal COVID-19 relief funds. The university also received a $2 million donation from Sunderland Foundation and will use roughly $500,000 in CDL revenues to meet the necessary conditions for the grant.

“We are very appreciative of Sunderland’s understanding of this need and the services they will be able to provide to students and the community,” Waldman said.

Last year, 334 people received their CDL through the JCCC program. Waldman said the new driving range will allow JCCC to serve more than 500 CDL trainees annually.

“JCCC’s mission is to inspire learning to change lives and strengthen communities. This is one of those programs, our CDL program, that really fits. We can see in four weeks or ten weeks the transformation that takes place both for students, companies that they can use, their economy and their families,” Waldman said.

Waldman said the college hopes to open a new driving range site within the next year. Prospective students can find more information about the CDL program JCCC website or by calling the registration office at 913-469-2323.

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