The Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College announced their opening of the CDL Skills driving range at the Franklin Center on Aug. 22.
"It is a great advantage for the community, but it is a huge opportunity for SKYCTC to fulfill their mission and be able to serve that community and it is a great revenue for us as well," said Kim Myers, director of Workforce Solutions at SKYCTC.
The CLD Skills program started in June 2018 with 90 students showing up that first day, and of those 90 approximately 88 actually completed the four-week program with a Class A Commercial Drivers License.
"We have been going strong for just over a year," Myers said.
Myers said some of their students decided to work over the road, which means long periods of time driving a tractor-trailer truck, while others decided to stay local.
"Every single graduate is gainfully employed in the industry," Myers said.
The only full-time CDL instructor is Oakley Vaughn, who has almost 30 years of experience driving for Averitt Express. Vaughn said he had some experience training with his previous employer so working for SKYCTC is not much different.
"It's different in the fact that you are getting people that have never been around this before when I was a trainer in my previous position they had been through these kinds of programs and I got them after the fact, now I get them before the fact," Vaughn said.
The main skill to have when teaching is patients with the students, he said.
Vaughn said the most important part to him is seeing the impact having the CDL training has on students' lives when they leave the program.
A current CDL Skills program student, Mark Priquette, said he wasn't sure about the program when he first started.
"We are six days (in) of driving so far, and all of that apprehensive I had has just kind of gone away because Oakley is a great trainer, when he sits in the side seat he is just real calm, the only time he raises his voice is when he thinks you are going to hit something," Priquette said.
Priquette is training with his wife, so after they receive their license they will be a team and drive together. The Priquettes' already have a job lined up once they complete the program, he said.
He said for anyone thinking about getting their CDL, he suggests trying the program because it is a wonderful opportunity.
Right now the CDL Skills program is only at the Franklin Center, but Myers hopes the program will expand to the other colleges in their 10 county region.
At the ribbon-cutting, SKYCTC President, Dr. Phil Neal announced that the Franklin Center put out an ad to hire another full-time CDL instructor and several part-time CDL instructors.