Century College gets federal transportation training grant

USDOT funds to go help train veterans, military families

WHITE BEAR LAKE — Century College is one of six U.S. colleges that have been awarded federal grants to help train veterans and military families for transportation industry jobs, Century officials recently announced.

Century will receive $120,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grant program.

Century plans to train 30 current or former members of the United States military and their spouses during the 2013-2014 academic year so they can earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The veterans and spouses will participate in Century’s four-week CDL Training Program conducted at the college’s state-of-the-art Afton Transportation Training Center. The program provides 180 hours of classroom education, hands-on practice and individual over-the-road training. In addition, students receive job-placement services to successfully connect them with living-wage jobs in the trucking industry.

“The least we can do for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country is to help ensure they can find good jobs when they leave the service,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in a prepared release. “The transportation industry provides a unique opportunity for military families and veterans to utilize skills they developed in the service, and we hope these grants will lead to more veterans joining the ranks of our country’s commercial vehicle drivers.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists commercial trucking as a high-demand job, with more than 300,000 additional positions expected by 2020.

In addition to Century, the other colleges receiving grants were Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Wash.; Long Beach Community College District in Long Beach, Calif.; Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg, S.C.; Lone Star College in Woodlands, Texas, and Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill.

The trucking industry has strong potential for addressing veterans’ employment needs. The median average wage for truck drivers in Minnesota is $18.72 an hour, according to a 2012 report by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Trucking is among the top 10 job-growth industries in Minnesota, the report says.

“We are thrilled that we will have an opportunity to provide education dollars to those who might not have access otherwise,” said Velvet Walker, Century College interim dean of Continuing Education/Customized Training. “We work with veterans all the time, and this grant will help those whose benefits cannot cover the full amount of their training.”

Century offers the only not-for-profit, fee-based Class-A CDL training in the Twin Cities. Century also offers the only program in the metro area featuring a CDL facility with a specially-designed obstacle course and intensive, one one-to-one over the road driver training. Students train on new 2011 multi-transmission trucks and learn to maneuver truck-trailer combinations of various sizes.

For more information, contact Walker at 651-779-3926 or email her at velvet.walker@century.edu.

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