#collegesafety | GRCC tapped by federal agency to support truck safety, driver training

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids Community College has received a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch a Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training program.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of DOT, recently announced more than $77 million in grants to states and educational institutions to improve commercial motor vehicle safety and help veterans transition to the industry.

GRCC was among 16 educational institutions receiving grants. The two-year, $79,567 grant is focused on public works.

The municipalities involved in the college’s Public Works Academy are already feeling what is becoming a national trend: a shortage of people who have completed proper commercial motor vehicle operator safety training, according to GRCC.

“We appreciate the U.S. Department of Transportation’s support in helping us provide training to help our residents and the region’s employers,’’ said Julie Parks, executive director for Workforce Training at GRCC.

The college’s Public Works Academy already includes multiple certifications. The municipalities involved in that partnership are Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Grand Haven.

The road commissions in Kent and Van Buren counties will also be collaborating with the college on the commercial vehicle course.

With its Public Works Academy partners, Parks says GRCC will be recruiting adult learners for the safety training – specifically, current and former military members, their spouses or their children.

Michigan ranks 11 out of the 50 states in terms of its overall veteran population, according to the state. According to GRCC, 78,821 veterans reside in the safety program’s seven-county target area that includes: Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Ionia, Barry and Montcalm.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports two goals of the training grants:

  • To expand the number of CDL holders possessing enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving commercial motor vehicles; and
  • To assist current or former members of the United States Armed Forces (including National Guard members and Reservists) and their spouses to receive training to transition to the CMV operation industry.

“We’re proud to respond to the needs of the communities we serve, and these are skills that are great demand right now,” Parks said.

According to GRCC, the 150-hour program will be offered in several formats to allow people to gain skills while maintaining their other commitments. These formats involve weekend and evening sessions.

Students will do their driving at GRCC’s Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC, 622 Godfrey Ave. SW, and at municipal- and employer-owned sites in the community.

The municipal partners will provide equipment for the program.

Parks said students will have to pay $250 each and will take the state of Michigan CDL (Commercial Drivers License) Class A exam, but must be age 21 or older by state law.

Potential employers will be involved throughout the training, answering questions, hosting site visits and conducting mock interviews.

Students who complete the program are guaranteed at least two interviews. Those interested in learning more, should email workforcetraining@grcc.edu or call 616-234-3800.

Information sessions will begin in November but the dates have not been determined.

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