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Workforce Development Program Puts Students In The Driver’s Seat Of New Careers

Drivers Needed. In an age of independent driving services such as Uber and Lyft, driving as a profession has become an option for many. In the commercial realm, however, jobs are waiting for qualified drivers and MC is training the next generation of pros. With a high demand for trained bus and truck drivers in Montgomery County, MC’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program targets drivers who are ready to put the pedal to the metal.

“We involve strategic industry partners such as MCPS, WMATA, Ride On, and more,” said Sharon Maxwell, Montgomery College’s CDL program manager. “Through collaboration with these partners, we created a program that develops and educates students to become their future workforce. We also serve employers experiencing skills gaps in CDL drivers who want employees to participate in the program.”

CDL Instructor showing a student around the bus

MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith’s proposed FY21 budget includes 30 new bus driver positions. To meet the need in this region, the College applied for and received an EARN Maryland Transportation and Logistics Training to Employment Grant. EARN Maryland is a state-funded competitive workforce development grant program created in 2014. It offers industry-led and regional strategies for helping businesses cultivate the skilled workforce they need.

Job placement for drivers who complete the program is a vital outcome because Maryland requires grant recipients, like MC, to achieve an 80 percent placement rate. One way the College is upping placement rates is its partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

the destination, the desired outcome… it’s simple – employment

“Since WMATA has partnered with Montgomery College, our pool of bus operators increased in the type of qualified candidates [we’re seeing],” said Alberto Marino, WMATA senior sourcing officer/diversity recruitment and Metro Trabajo Program manager.

CDL instructor explaining the dashboard console

Montgomery College’s CDL program will serve up to 80 students through the two-year EARN Grant in the intensive 70-hour program.

Maxwell says more trucking and busing employers have joined forces with MC for driver training opportunities. The College has begun working with nonprofit partners such as WorkSource Montgomery and the Housing Opportunities Commission to increase program outreach.

As the College, and the county, roll into a new decade, educational pathways and industry partnerships will continue to be the main streets on the roadmap to student success.

Says Maxwell, “the destination, the desired outcome… it’s simple – employment.”

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