Catrina Bateman, CDL Student
POCAHONTAS, AR Sept. 10– Recognizing the state and nationwide shortage of commercially licensed truck drivers, Black River Technical College started the first year of its CDL Training Program in the summer of 2020 after receiving a grant from the Delta Regional Authority.
In January of 2021, the college received an additional grant from the Arkansas Office of Skills Development which offered qualified recipients funding to complete the program. After one year, BRTC has graduated 49 CDL students, including 4 female students, and has maintained a 100% pass rate of the CDL exam given by the Arkansas State Police.
Students in the program spend the first 40 hours in the classroom preparing for the Commercial Learner’s Permit Exam. After earning a permit, students spend the next four weeks focusing on vehicle inspection, preventative maintenance, and hands-on defensive driving. Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in shifting, backing up, and city and highway driving as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations.
Patti Blaxton, Director of Corporate and Community Education, Pocahontas, expressed how proud she is of the success of BRTC’s CDL Program by stating, “This program is a wonderful opportunity for the residents of Northeast Arkansas which also supports local and regional businesses that are suffering from the driver shortage. Students can go through our five-week course, learn a new set of skills, and immediately put those new skills to work, making an average of $50,000 per year with no experience. I don’t know of many other opportunities that can make such a difference for our graduates, their families, and our community as a whole.”
BRTC is expanding the CDL Training Program to its Paragould campus. The college is in the process of purchasing a training truck and hiring an instructor for Paragould.
For more information about BRTC’s CDL Training Program, contact Patti Blaxton on the Pocahontas campus at (870) 248-4000, ext. 4181, or Priscilla Stillwell on the Paragould Campus at (870) 239-0969, ext. 5101.