Thanks to a generous donation from Milliken & Company, Spartanburg Community College
is one step closer to starting a new truck driver training program offering competitive
wages and job security in a profession that is desperate for drivers. On Tuesday,
October 3, Milliken donated a 53-foot trailer to SCC that will be used to train students
enrolled in the College's new commercial driver's license (CDL) or truck driver training
program starting next month.
CEO, President and Chairman of the Board of Milliken & Company J. Harold Chandler presented SCC President Henry C. Giles with the trailer at the College's central campus in Spartanburg at a meeting on Tuesday between executives from both organizations. In addition to the donation, the meeting was also an opportunity for Milliken executives to visit SCC to see first-hand the many educational offerings available for current and future Milliken employees. The group visited the College's Center for Automated Manufacturing and Industrial Technology (CAMIT), which includes classrooms and labs for the mechatronics, process control and robotics programs of study, as well as SCC's career services department which manages the technical scholars program and apprenticeship opportunities. The group also visited the College's Corporate & Community Education division and the Spartanburg County Early College, which is housed on SCC's central campus.
"We are so appreciative to Milliken for their trailer donation for our new CDL program," adds Giles. "This will not only help us get this program up and running, but it will help us immediately produce trained and qualified graduates who can in turn join the trucking industry, one that literally keeps our state and nation moving by transporting goods all across the country."
"Improved access to technical education and the career opportunities generated by that education can enhance the lives and well-being of our neighbors," shares Chandler. "Milliken is pleased to contribute to Spartanburg Community College's new Commercial Driver's License program and provide important support for our community's future."
According to the South Carolina Trucking Association, over 80 percent of communities in the Palmetto State depend exclusively on trucks to move goods. Trucks transport 84 percent of total manufactured tonnage in the state, or 424,585 tons per day. In 2013, SC's trucking industry provided 88,370 jobs, or one out of 17 in the state.
In an October 2016 study submitted to the SC General Assembly by the SC State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education researching the employment of entry-level CDL drivers by local and state agencies, it was determined that of the 8,230 trucking companies in the state (small and locally owned) suffer from a driver shortage. And, nationwide, the shortage is even greater. The U.S. Department of Labor, and the American Trucking Association (ATA) predict more than 100,000 additional truck drivers will be needed this year alone to move freight in America. That number is expected to grow to 175,000 by 2024.
"There is a great shortage of drivers in part, due to the aging of truck drivers, many reaching retirement age in the last few years, plus not enough new drivers are entering the profession. That coupled with major growth in the economy and the need for more drivers means we are left with a shortage that needs to be filled immediately," explains Randall Parnell, SCC's director of the CDL/truck driver training program. "One could argue that there are a number of truck driver training schools in the area, which is true. But most, are running close to full capacity and have a month or longer waiting list for new students to begin. These factors led Spartanburg Community College to opening a new truck driver training program to meet the growing shortage of drivers."
Pres. Giles adds, "Our meeting today continued great dialogue between our organizations to brainstorm how we can work together to strengthen our local economy by educating local citizens who can potentially become employees Milliken needs to continue their groundbreaking work. We have visited many areas on campus and discussed opportunities with our Technical Scholars Program and apprenticeships, both of which are viable options to expand Milliken's employee base with SCC students and graduates."
Jennifer Little, director of SCC's Career Services department, says the benefits of the Technical Scholars Program are tremendous for students and employers. "We work with the sponsoring company to identify qualified scholar candidates, students who after graduating from SCC can be considered for permanent employment. The employer has access to motivated students who possess a wide range of skills and potential to complete a rigorous academic and experiential curriculum, and they have a chance to observe the students' skills and work habits before they are ever considered for permanent employment after graduation."
SCC's Technical Scholars program offers students the unique opportunity to learn beyond the classroom and develop skills for a real-world experience that will be vital when working after graduating from SCC. Students participating in this program attend SCC classes full-time, in an eligible degree program, while working part-time with a sponsor company, who may also provide tuition assistance for the student.
Apprenticeships are an "earn while you learn training model" that combines structured on the job training, job related education and a scalable wage progression. Apprenticeship Carolina , which is part of the SC Technical College System, manages apprenticeship opportunities to ensure all SC employers have access to the information and technical assistance they need to create demand-driven registered apprenticeship programs.
Milliken's work to improve and expand education is an integral part of the company's commitment to be a valued partner in each of the communities it calls home. With the company's global headquarters based in Spartanburg, the local community is a key part of its outreach and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Photos from the event are available for download at the following link: