COLUMBUS—State Representatives Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) this week introduced legislation that aims to provide a more cost-efficient pathway for Ohio students wanting to receive commercial driver’s license (CDL) training in order to pursue an occupation in truck driving.
House Bill 154 would provide scholarship opportunities for the education of up to 1,000 drivers through the Commercial Truck Driver Student Aid Program. As part of the program, scholarships would pay for approximately half of the cost of CDL training and the other half would be paid through a loan. This would allow new drivers to receive an education in the trucking industry by providing them the necessary tools to succeed in this in-demand profession without having to rack up a massive amount of debt.
“This is common sense legislation that will provide job training for in-demand jobs in Lorain County,” Manning said. “The scholarship program coupled with the loan portion would allow individuals to obtain the skills required in a field where the starting salary is over $40,000 with the ability to earn more as the employee progresses, but provide an incentive to finish the program and use the training acquired in the workforce.”
Doris Young, Owner and President of Great Lakes Truck Driving School in Columbia Station, commented, “I have been in the truck driver training industry for 30 years now and have never seen the demand for drivers this high. I have had my own business for 8 ½ years and worked with my brother at Hamrick Truck Driving School for 22 years and the demand has never been this great. Each year we have over 400 companies calling us for drivers with each having an average need of 15 drivers. We also have approximately 20 companies that recruit onsite each month. This legislation, if passed, would definitely generate the stimulus needed to bolster Ohio’s economy and its indigenous workforce.”
This legislation, which has received the support of the Ohio Trucking Association, is part of a package of bills introduced in the Ohio House and Senate that are working to help increase the amount of truck drivers in the industry, which has decreased in recent years. Other bills aim to provide tax credits to trucking companies with on-the-job training programs, create a study to examine ways to insure young drivers and streamline CDL licensing conversions for military veterans.
These proposed efforts could result in increased employment in the trucking industry by 8,000 individuals. In a field that provides jobs at competitive salaries, proponents of the bills hope to fill transportation job openings that exist throughout the state.