May 16, 2023, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Workforce Institute, Rm. 2115
Members in Attendance
Steve Bremer, Josh Collins, Bradley Harden, Doug Harry, Lou Johnson, Doug Longstaff, Sheila Moran, Barbara Messner, Candace Silas, Tom Spears, Nancy Sweet.
Mike Ernst, Brad Jordan, Kristy Johnson, Adam Pijanowski.
- Welcome and introductions
- Review ELDT Rules
- Employer Concerns
- Get Involved
1. Welcome and introductions
Curt welcomed everyone and asked everyone to introduce themselves. Lou noted that out of their 47 drivers, 15 came through LLCC’s truck driving program. Curt opened the meeting by recounting the history of the TDS program which started at LLCC in 1997. 99% of our TDS students get their CDL. Classes average 6-7 students; typically 160 students per year go through the program. We have been approved for an expansion which will add 2-3 students per class and 2-4 new trucks resulting in a total of 10/11 trucks. We currently have 9 staff all; all but two of them went through our program.
2. Review ELDT Rules
Curt reviewed the syllabus (see attached). We have an air brake trainer in the classroom. In Fall ’22, out of 70 students, 65 passed their permit the first time; Doug worked with the 5 that didn’t until they passed. In Spring ’23 out of 64 students, 59 passed the first time and the others got it on their second try. We’re doing what the federal government requires to prepare them to get the permit. We follow ELDT rules for Hazmat assessment. We also include additional items that the government doesn’t require. Curt encouraged everyone to let him know if there were things missing that they’d like to see. Lou encouraged us to have students drive through crowded parking lots because he needs drivers who can do that to get items in and out of fast-food restaurants. We do have one instructor that does this. Dusty said we should make sure to cover sliding the 5th wheel. Approximately 3 out of 7 of our students get their Hazmat endorsement, and we always encourage students to get doubles, triples and tanker to be as hirable as possible. We do not give them hands-on chaining training, but we do show videos of how to chain.
The federal government has the power to audit programs, but currently there is no one auditing because they don’t have the staff to do it. Our student to instructor ratio is typically 3 to1, sometimes less. We perform our own assessments on students and the Secretary of State’s office comes to LLCC to test. The SOS averages about one hour per person to test.
Every employer needs drivers. Doug needs 100, Shelia 25, Lou 5, Brad 5, Steve needs 3-4 in Iowa and 10 more in Illinois for an upcoming project. Curt shared US Bureau of Labor Statistics. $48,310 is the median salary for our area. 70% of freight nationwide is conveyed by truck.
3. Employer Concerns
Curt asked everyone to share a high and a hurdle for their company. He started by saying that a high is working with students to get a job but that it’s difficult to get students to take the permit test seriously. Also, now that CBD is legal, the drug scan is a hurdle. Doug Harry shared that hurdles he faces are that freight rates are down, CBD, and sleep apnea. Curt said that regulations are softening up for diabetics and those with hearing and vision impairments. LLCC trains hearing impaired drivers and will provide interpreters. Brad is encouraged to have more applicants, but a hurdle is the quality of candidates—their background, work ethic, etc. Drivers for Coke load and unload and many people don’t want to work that hard. The first 3 months are the hardest. They have a 7-week onboarding program. Sheila said a high is decreasing driver injuries (DOT has a new program for this) and a low is that freight is down right now and it’s difficult to keep everyone busy. Lou shared that a high is that they are staffed and delivering on time. A low is that it is hard to get people with a good work ethic (loading). They pay $85,000 with no weekends but it’s hard labor which many don’t want to do. People would rather take lower pay and do an easier job. They are currently testing side lift gates with half pallets so that drivers are not touching freight. It is slower but less work. Brad said that Coke is trying to make it as simple as possible with the least amount of work. They continue to look for ways to make delivery easier. Steve shared that a high is safety (they won an award) and a low is recruiting. It is difficult to find drivers with a work ethic who will load pigs and deal with biosecurity issues.
4. Get Involved
After lunch and a time of informal conversation, Curt highlighted the Workforce Institute booklets and Career Expo invitations. All were encouraged to attend Expo where last year we had 500 high school students and this year we’re expecting more. It is very interactive; last year there were 60 employers. Tom discussed the OSHA 10 and forklift trainings that we offer and explained the Highway Construction Careers Training program.
Dusty asked if we had ever looked into an apprenticeship program. He has been tasked with researching an apprenticeship program for Coca-Cola. Nancy is open to the idea but unsure how it would work in a 4 week program. Doug Longstaff said that we tried something similar before with a Transportation Distribution Logistics program which included CDL, OSHA, scissor/forklift, pallets, logistics, but it wasn’t successful. Simply getting the CDL got students better salaries.
All employers agreed that LLCC students have the skills they need. Steve said that Maschhoffs has 5 LLCC drivers with good skills. They recently hired from another school and that employee didn’t have the necessary skills. Shelia related that LLCC is the best place they recruit from. Brad said that our graduates don’t always have the best troubleshooting skills but that they have good backing skills. When asked if there was anything specific we could focus on for each employer, Sheila said ELDs and keeping phones out of drivers’ hands, Lou said loading and side ramps, Brad requested a focus on safety cones and situational awareness, Steve asked for attention to powerlines.
Curt thanked everyone for their time, participation and feedback and concluded the meeting.