Four community colleges in Arkansas, affiliated with the state’s two university systems, have teamed up to form the Arkansas Trucking Academy, the state’s first public trucking academy.
The four schools – Arkansas State University Three Rivers, University of Arkansas Cossatot, UA Rich Mountain and UA Hope/Texarkana – will offer driver training with hopes of adding to the state’s skilled workforce and alleviating the driver shortage in their state.
“This is another pace-setting workforce solution that has grown out of conversations between leaders in industry and education,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said at the program’s unveiling at ASU Three Rivers. “Arkansas’ businesses had a problem, our educators stepped in to fill it, and we are able to support it with an Arkansas Regional Workforce grant.
“It’s a model for partnerships between the private sector and government. Because of that, we soon will be putting more trucks on the road with first-rate drivers at the wheel.”
The program received a $720,000 grant to start operations. Through a combination of virtual/simulation instruction, traditional classroom instruction and practical OTR experience, students will receive 160 contact hours of noncredit training per course. Students who successfully complete the course will be prepared to test for their CDL.
A total of 20 courses will be offered annually, five courses per college, and slots are limited to four students per course. The maximum cost per student is $1,300. The first classes begin Aug. 2.
“Creating opportunities and growing Arkansas’ workforce is always a top priority in Arkansas community colleges,” UA Rich Mountain Chancellor and ArkTA co-chair Phillip Wilson said.
"It's unique because it's not just among four community colleges, but we’re doing this with two different community college systems,” Akili Moses Isreal, the UAHT business and industry training director, was quoted by KTBS-TV. “The need for truck drivers is so important that we were all about to come together and collaborate to make this possible for our communities.”
“In Arkansas, the trucking industry supports one in 10 jobs in the (state’s) private sector,” Arkansas Trucking Association president Shannon Newton said. “We rank No. 1 in the country per capita employed in the trucking industry, so certainly, as an advocate of the industry, it is my job to help people understand the role trucking plays in your everyday life (and) also help solve the challenges the industry is facing.”
For more information on the program visit www.ArkTruckingAcademy.com