October 2, 2017
Secretary Schulz visits Mountaintop Truck Driving Institute at GC
The training taking place at Garrett College’s Mountaintop Truck Driving Institute (MTDI) is addressing critical present and future workforce demands, according to Maryland’s secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
"Maryland is growing. The trucking and heavy transport industries are – and will continue to be – logistically essential to that growth," said Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. "As more and more companies set up distribution centers and e-commerce sites in the state, the demand for emerging technologies and jobs within these industries will continue to increase."
On Tuesday, Secretary Schulz toured MTDI and the college’s Northern Outreach Center in Grantsville that houses the institute.
Delegate Wendell Beitzel (R-1A), Garrett County Commissioner Larry Tichnell, Maryland Motor Truck Association (MMTA) President Louis Campion, and a host of Garrett College officials joined Secretary Schulz for the tour and a meeting to discuss workforce opportunities in the transportation field. Students enrolled at MTDI – which offers Class A and Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training as well as learner’s permit prep courses were named this year’s scholarship recipients of the Walter & Harriet Thompson Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to students enrolled in truck driving and diesel mechanic programs at MMTA member community colleges.
"MTDI is a real success story. The institute prepares a wide range of students – recent high school grads, career-changers, even retirees anxious to supplement their income – for a high-demand career that pays well," said Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College’s president. "We appreciate Secretary Schulz committing the time to visit Mountaintop and learn more about how we prepare students for the workforce."
Julie Yoder, Garrett College’s dean of Continuing Education & Workforce Development, led a tour of the classrooms, computer labs, and the commercial fleet of trucks. Four students enrolled in the Class A CDL training program were in the middle of their class, being led by Jack Gauntz, the college’s MTDI instructor.
Gauntz is very knowledgeable of the truck driving industry, having driven trucks for more than four decades. "We give students the skills to become professionals when they leave our program," said Gauntz, whose program graduates have an 85 percent first-time licensure pass rate.
"Our students have a very high pass rate on the CDL exam in large part due to the pre-training supportive services, hands-on instruction and experiential learning they receive from our excellent faculty and staff," Yoder said.
Terry Beachy, assistant director of Workforce Development and Community Education, followed up the tour with an overview of MTDI’s commercial driving program. Since the program first began in 2004, Garrett College has trained over 700 students seeking a Class A CDL. The truck driving program attracts students from the surrounding tristate region, with 45 percent of the students coming from Garrett County, 24 percent from Allegany County, 19 percent from West Virginia and 12 percent from Pennsylvania.
Beachy said trucking companies are snatching up MTDI students almost as fast as the college can train them.
"Trucking companies, such as Schneider National, are actively looking for drivers, and are offering sign-on bonuses, tuition reimbursement opportunities, and so many other benefits for workers," Beachy said.
"Driver shortage in the trucking industry is at an all-time high and it is only going to get worse," stated Campion. He said 100 percent of students that go through the truck driving program at Garrett College find employment in the field.
Recruiters actively visit MTDI on a regular basis and many students leave the Class A CDL program at the end of 30 days employed and ready to enter the workforce. The Class B program, which began in 2008, is offered one-on-one and is a six-day program.
Companies, such as Schneider National or DOT Foods, offer employees full and part-time positions, home weekly flexibility, 401K, paid orientation, ‘no-touch’ loads, sign-on bonuses, tuition-reimbursement opportunities, and medical, dental, and vision insurance.
Schneider has a terminal located near Bedford, Pa., which is in close proximity to MTDI, and provides an excellent opportunity for those seeking employment close to home.
Funding opportunities are also available, whether it is through the G.I. Bill, SNAP Grant, Garrett County Scholarship Program (occupational scholarship), or the Garrett County and Allegany County Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.
"It’s helping people get back to work or get into work, no matter what the situation," said Beachy. "We are just really, really glad to help people."
Pictured from left to right, at Secretary Schulz’s recent visit to the Garrett College Mountaintop Truck Driving Institute (MTDI) in Grantsville are MTDI students Brandon Hanline (Garrett County, Md.) and Scott Felice (Markylesburg, Pa.), Cherie Krug, Executive Director, Garrett College Foundation; Lois Campion, President & CEO, Maryland Motor Truck Association; Terry Beachy, Assistant Director of Workforce Development and Community Education, Garrett College Continuing Education & Workforce Development, Garrett College; Julie Yoder, Dean of Continuing Education & Workforce Development, Garrett College; Larry Tichnell, Garrett County Commissioner; Delegate Wendell Beitzel, Kelly Schulz, Secretary, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; Richard Midcap, President, Garrett College; Jack Gauntz, MTDI Instructor; and MTDI students John Dittman (Garrett County, Md.) and Robert Vandevander (Fisher, W.Va).