VC's truck driving program thriving, local industries vying for students
Nov. 12, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.
Victoria College's Workforce and Continuing Education Department this fall enrolled its largest truck driving class to date.
With 14 students, this fall's class beat the previous truck driving class record of 11 students.
"The Eagle Ford Shale activity has increased the need for drivers in the oilfield industry throughout the region," said Sherri Pall, director of workforce and continuing education. "This has created a shortage of drivers across all industries."
"We're seeing employers vying for our students during the first week of class," Pall said. "These students should have multiple job offers before they even finish the program and that is a true exception in this job market."
Some companies actively recruiting drivers include Coca Cola, Schneider National, Sunoco and Stallion Services. Some employers are even offering tuition assistance for drivers.
"We have 100 open positions in the area driving locally with full benefits," said Joe Phillips, manager of driver recruiting for Schneider National. "And we're offering tuition reimbursement up to $3,500 for the training if we are the first company they work for out of school."
Coca Cola has four driver positions open. Leon Goins, distribution center manager, said driving for Coca Cola isn't just a job, it's a career.
"We offer a complete benefit package," said Goins. "We also donate to local community projects such as little league, and our drivers are local, so they can be home with their families every night."
Sunoco has about 20 job openings in the Bay City area with 60 more openings in Corpus Christi and surrounding areas starting in January.
These industries also face challenges as they pursue employees. The most notable challenge is passing potential employees through a background check. For Sunoco, many candidates don't get to the hiring process if they fail to meet the company's requirement of living within 60 miles of the work site.
As far as choosing where to recruit, local employers don't hesitate to turn to VC first. In addition to convenient location, representatives for these companies said they prefer recruiting truck drivers from VC's program because of its established reputation.
"Our truck driving program is expanding so quickly due to this local demand, we're now offering this program at our Gonzales location in addition to the one in Victoria," said Pall. "This is an incredibly lucrative, in-demand field right now and we expect our numbers to continue to grow."