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PDCCC finds a niche market

A new four-week training program being offered by Paul D. Camp Community College, in association with Shipper’s Choice, is just the sort of thing the college should be doing to support the specific community that it serves.

The program allows participating students to earn a Class A Commercial Driver’s License upon successful completion of the course and gives them lifetime job placement assistance, as well as lifetime refresher training.

With the increasing number of warehousing and distribution facilities in and around Suffolk, coupled with the growth of the ports in Hampton Roads, trucking is poised to continue growing as a career option in this area, at least until the time — still in the distant future at this point — when autonomous vehicles take to the roads.

To be sure, autonomous vehicles threaten the career field in the long run, as robot vehicles will cut shippers’ expenses by eliminating the cost of wages and benefits for the truck drivers they eventually displace. But, especially for those seeking second careers and considering retirement within the next 20 years or so, the future of trucking remains solid.

Paul D. Camp is responding to that current need with the new program, which will enable folks in Suffolk and Western Tidewater to earn the necessary certification right here at home. “We know there is a huge demand in this area,” Angela Lawhorne, workforce development director for Paul D. Camp, said last week.

The demand is likely to continue to grow for some time as companies recognize the opportunity that’s offered by the deep-water ports in Norfolk and Portsmouth and the easy access to arterial routes to the north, south and west that is available from Suffolk, Windsor and other Western Tidewater locations that have become magnets for the huge distribution warehouses springing up in the area.

Students get 80 hours of classroom training in the first two weeks of the program, during which they obtain their CDL learner’s permit and receive the required physical right there at the college campus. The second half of the program features behind-the-wheel training at a facility off Carolina Road, where students will be bused from the Suffolk campus on Kenyon Road.

This is just the sort of community-centric thinking that the best community colleges encourage. They look for a specific need in the community — a particular niche market that will serve residents of that community especially well — and they find a way to meet that special need.

We are proud of the folks at Paul D. Camp for recognizing this opportunity and pursuing a way to bring it to fruition, and we look forward to seeing many new graduates with shiny new CDLs in the coming years.