Education

Richland 1 unveils high school CDL training program, first of its kind in SC

Richland 1 School Board chairman Jamie Devine speaks during a May 16 ribbon-cutting of a program that aims to help Eau Claire High School students get Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Richland 1 School Board chairman Jamie Devine speaks during a May 16 ribbon-cutting of a program that aims to help Eau Claire High School students get Commercial Driver’s Licenses

More than 30 Eau Claire High School students are about to get behind the wheel for the first time.

But unlike their peers, it won’t be the family grocery-getter. These students are training to drive 18-wheeler trucks and school buses through the school’s budding Commercial Driver License program, Richland 1 school district said in a press release.

Richland 1 claims this is the first program of its kind in the state and the third of its kind in the country.

Students began in-class instruction for the program last August, and in the 2019-2020 school year, they will begin driving trucks on a closed course, the release said. Students who complete the three-year program will test out of the in-classroom requirements required for a commercial driver’s license. They will still have to finish their education at either a technical college or a private school, the release said.

They train truckers at the Apex CDL Institute in Kansas City, Kan. A federal proposal to put teens at the wheel of big rigs crossing the nation would boost enrollment, but is it safe?

“Great things happen when our business and community partners join with us to create unique learning experiences, opportunities and career pathways for our students,” Richland One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said of the partnership with South Carolina Trucking Association in a press release. “We are excited about the competitive advantages that this program will offer our students.”

There is currently a nationwide shortage of truck drivers, according to an article in the Journal of Commerce. The median wage for a truck driver is $21 per hour or $43,680 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it’s not unheard of for truck drivers to make up to $80,000 per year, according to a 2018 article in the Washington Post.

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