Training the Next Generation of the Trucking Industry

Freightliner Trucks
Severe Duty Newsletter
The transportation industry is an exciting field that is facing a shortage of skilled service technicians.
The transportation industry is an exciting field that is facing a shortage of skilled service technicians. Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, N.C., has increased student enrollment in all of its Transport Systems Technologies programs by partnering with high schools and industry leaders, including Freightliner Trucks.

“We started by having our instructors visit high schools and assist with the automotive programs to bridge the gap from high school to college,” said David Favre, division director of Transport Systems Technologies at CPCC. “Then we started working with industry partners to promote their jobs to our students.”

This system has worked out well for the college and for its students. Favre said that most students complete co-ops while in school and graduate with jobs. The college will soon build additions because they have outgrown their space.

CPCC offers programs in Automotive Systems, Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology, Collision Repair and Refinishing Technology, and specialty programs for truck and automotive OEMs and heavy-duty on-highway diesel engines. Recently, the college added a CDL Truck Driving program to train new drivers.

“A lot of our partners really need truck drivers, and the need is not being met,” said Favre. “Our first goal was to make it affordable and accessible to people.” This program currently has a waiting list.

CPCC also offers continuing education courses in Basic Auto Body Repair and Restoration, Forklift Operator Certification, and OBD II certification and recertification. Favre estimates that about 30 percent of their students are straight out of high school and 30 percent are coming back to school to change jobs. The remaining 40 percent are retraining, including workers at Freightliner’s Mount Holly plant.

As one of the college’s industry partners, Freightliner donates trucks, engines, and transmissions so students get real-life experience with newer equipment. One of the trucks donated by Freightliner is equipped with an automated transmission, which is a great transitional tool for the CDL program. Favre says that students first learn to drive the automatic commercial truck, and from there move on to a manual shift, which is less overwhelming than going straight from a car to a manual-shift tractor trailer.

“Our students are grateful for the partnership and the donations from Freightliner,” said Favre. “We use the equipment for hands-on training in our diesel program, for driving in our CDL program, and for live work.”

As for the future of the transportation industry? Favre says heavy equipment has the largest potential for growth. “They’re catching up with automotive and upping the technology, creating a need for more diesel technicians. The increased technology is driving the job growth.”

"Our students are grateful for the partnership and the donations from Freightliner. We use the equipment for hands-on training in our diesel program, for driving in our CDL program, and for live work."

– David Favre, division director of Transport Systems Technologies at Central Piedmont Community College

Students at Central Piedmont Community College learn their way around the engine bay.

An instructor assisting a student at Central Piedmont Community College.