It was a good problem to have – too many students and not enough instructors. That was the case for Trainco Inc.’s Truck Driving Schools' program hosted at Washtenaw Community College until recently, when a second instructor was added to accommodate the growing popularity of the program.
“Across Michigan and throughout the U.S., there’s still a large demand for CDL drivers,” said Jim Brywczynski, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Trainco. “WCC has done an amazing job hosting this program.”
Last September, the college, through its Workforce Development Division, partnered with Trainco Inc. to offer a full-service CDL-A training program to help fill critical workforce needs. Since then, almost 40 students have graduated from the program and 37 have retained employment so far.
Each three-week session can take up to six students, and there continues to be a waiting list. The next session with openings begins July 26.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an annual national average of 259,900 openings for heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver positions through 2031, largely due to retirements.
The average income for a CDL-A driver for the state of Michigan is $63,679, according to Zip Recruiter. New CDL-A driver drivers can potentially earn $50,000 to $95,000 annually, according to Brywczynski.
The program at WCC paves the way to a CDL license. Brywczynski works directly with students to help place them in a job. He also connects students with companies who will sponsor tuition in exchange for a year of work.
Trainco Inc. has been providing training for more than two decades, and over 90% of its 10,000 graduates find employment after completing their training.
Lauren Kakaley (right) graduated from Trainco in April and recently started a truck driving job with a large Tampa, Florida-based company and will soon be hauling food products.
Years ago, Kakaley attended WCC for its Nursing Assistant Skills Training program and worked in health care until about six years ago when she decided to stay home to care for her children, now ages 13, 7 and 6.
When she was looking to re-enter the workforce, she heard about the Trainco program and enrolled.
“I wanted to change it up,” she said, and trucking was on her radar because of an aunt who worked as a fuel hauler for three decades. “She inspired me and she’s the one who made me want to do it.”
The small class sizes – and corresponding class-to-instructor ratio, which ensures hands-on instruction from trucking industry leaders – was one of the best aspects of the program, she said.
“The first day, we were in the classroom for a few hours and then the instructor made us drive. He wasn’t just lecturing all the time. The class was very active, and he was very engaging,” she said. “It was pretty intimidating, but it was exciting.”
Students complete the classroom portion on campus and use a WCC parking lot for the skills pad training. Students complete 50 hours of classroom work, 50 hours of skills pad practice and 50 hours of supervised driving.
Mondi Bardhi and his brother Ardjan have owned 2Brothers2 Trucking in Shelby Township for 18 years, primarily running freight for FedEx Ground. Many of the company’s 80 drivers have been trained through Trainco.
This year, another brother, Martin Bardhi who recently retired from the restaurant business, completed Trainco's CDL-A training course at WCC so that he can drive part-time.
“They refer drivers to us, and I send my people to them,” Mondi Bardhi said. “Trainco is the best program we’ve found, and I’m very happy with the students who come out of there. The drivers come in prepared.”
Kakaley, who was in a class with three men, said there’s no reason more women can’t follow in her footsteps.
According to the American Trucking Association, women make up just 6-7% of drivers in the industry, though the number has increased in the last decade. Since 2010, the number of professional female truck drivers has increased 68%.
Workforce Development at WCC
Trainco Inc. at WCC
For additional details about Trainco Inc.’s truck driving program at WCC, call Trainco at (419) 837-5730.