Brookdale partners with business to offer course for commercial driver’s license

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Some students may spend two years studying at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft to earn an associate’s degree.

Now, some driven individuals will need just four weeks to steer themselves into a new career.

Brookdale Community College and 160 Driving Academy, which helps people obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), have joined forces to address what has been described as a local and nationwide shortage of commercial drivers.

The 160 Driving Academy has opened its 46th driving vocational school at Brookdale, which is the county college of Monmouth County, and the partnership has created a path for students to obtain the license they need to operate vehicles for the local and long-haul transportation of food, equipment and other products, according to the college.

The 160-hour program consists of classroom instruction, pre-trip maintenance and inspection, skills and maneuvers training, and road experience. The course culminates with a road test at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A formal ceremony to announce the new partnership was held at Brookdale’s campus in Lincroft on Oct. 22.

Brookdale President Dr. David Stout said, “This all started when I had a conversation with (Monmouth County Administrator) Teri O’Connor. She said the county needs CDL drivers … and we immediately went to work. The entire team at (Continuing and Professional Studies) hit the ground running and put this partnership together to deliver CDL drivers into the community.”

Stout joked with the Monmouth County freeholders who were present about whether the college or the county “would get the first crack at the (CDL) graduates.”

“The (current) lack of skilled drivers with a (CDL) … has a negative impact on all of us and on our economy,” Stout said.

Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone said, “Every great program has a story behind it. The story here is that the county, a few years back, (realized) we had a dire need for (commercial drivers).

“… Probably we created that problem somewhat because of the salary guide that was there. The practice was, at that time, the individual (driver) would have to go in and acquire their CDL.

“It was very difficult for (commercial) drivers to live on those wages. We found out we were losing (commercial drivers) and some people were not even coming in. We asked how we could make this a better standard of living. We said, ‘let’s bring them in with a CDL and raise that increase on the salary guide,’ ” Arnone said.

Kelly Johnson, 41, said he recently decided to change careers. The former salesman and Army recruiter said he likes to drive so he signed up for the CDL program. Within two weeks, Johnson said, he received his CDL permit.

He is learning about the logistics of the profession and how to drive a truck, stating, “This is enough training to get your CDL and to start working in the field. (Truck driving) is challenging, but I like a challenge.”

For more information, visit brookdalecc.edu/continuinged/careerdevelopment/commercial-driver-training/.