Ivy Tech is launching what may be the country’s first commercial driver’s license program, comprised of academic and practical coursework, where students can use federal student loans to pay for it.
The training program is being called CDL+ and will be offered at five Ivy Tech campuses starting in January. More locations will offer it later in the year. It was created with Conexus Indiana and Indiana Motor Truck Association to address a shortage of drivers, in Indiana and around the country.
Bryce Carpenter, vice president of industry engagement for Conexus, said they intentionally added an academic curriculum so students can use federal college loans to pay for it. It will take longer than a traditional driving school, but students could graduate with credits that count toward other degrees.
“So not only will I end up with a CDL license, but I’ve got 17 credit hours towards another degree at Ivy Tech, should I choose to switch professions later on down the road,” Carpenter said.
He said it also solves a problem trucking companies have to run "finishing programs" for new drivers who just earned licenses to get a little more experience. He hopes this more extensive curriculum can eliminate some of that costly, in-house training.
"With the amount of turnover that you see within the industry, they were having a lot of training dollars walk out the door to another trucking company or a different profession," he said.
According to an annual report from the American Transportation Research Institute, the driver shortage has been, by far, the largest concern for shipping companies in the last four years.