By Cynthia Montes
Calendar editor

A new truck-driver training program has started to address the region’s and the nation’s need for skilled drivers and to upgrade workers’ skill levels, Lou Anne Bynum, executive vice president for college advancement and economic development, said Monday, Nov. 19.

Bynum said the program is designed to also provide opportunities for laid-off workers, unemployed, U.S. veterans and the economically disadvantaged.

The training program will incorporate topics in safety, alternative fuel technology, transporting hazardous materials and security.

The participants also will learn distribution management, inventory, operations and safety, supply chain, processing and owner-operation principles.
“Our training will help them to be good drivers.  The notion of simple truck-driving doesn’t hold true anymore,” Bynum said. The drivers will also be trained to be business owners, she said.

George Lara, 19, an undecided major, said, “The program is good. It helps that more jobs are created.  People can learn new material and gain new experience.”

The program is funded by a two-year $440,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and backed by $450,000 pledged commitment from the trucking industry.

Bynum said existing infrastructure built at LBCC will be used for the training.

She said the Advance Transportation Technology Center headed by Cal Macy and Pete Sparks and the Small Business Development Center are participants in the training.

Jesus Cervantes, 21, a history major, said, “It gives people an opportunity to learn without paying so much money.  It’s good for Long Beach and it’s helping out students to get familiar with new technology and new system.”

The Harbor Trucking Association, which represents all trucking agencies, helped developed the program.

Its member companies, drivers and port operators at both ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will collaborate in the instruction and training. Bynum said, “We will have teachers from the industry.”

The Long Beach and Los Angeles area offers a lot of trade activities, she said.  Almost 50 percent of imported goods pass through the ports.  The trucking industry identified the large need for skilled drivers in the region.

The new truck-driver training program starts in November and will end in January 2014. It aims to train 300 students. She said the trucking association will help recruit participants.

The Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network also will be consulted to identify participants who are unemployed and underemployed.

Bynum said the LBCC office of college advancement and economic development works with other agencies in its grant-funded projects.

Although the current program is for just two years, Bynum said, “We do look for other sources of funds.”  She said they are strategic in their focus.