Butler Tech opens new truck driver license testing site to speed more into the workforce

Butler Tech last week unveiled a new driver’s examination test site in Liberty Twp. for those adults seeking to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The adult student program and its new testing facility will greatly speed the licensing process, say Butler Tech officials. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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Butler Tech last week unveiled a new driver’s examination test site in Liberty Twp. for those adults seeking to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL). The adult student program and its new testing facility will greatly speed the licensing process, say Butler Tech officials. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

An area career school has opened a new facility to better speed more graduates into truck driving jobs as the region and nation continue to scramble to fill those positions.

Butler Tech last week unveiled a new driver’s examination test site in Liberty Twp. for those adults seeking to earn their commercial driver’s license (CDL).

“Over the past year, we increased our training capacity in Butler County as well as opening a Batavia campus (Clermont County) for additional training,” said Nick Linberg, executive director of strategic programming at Butler Tech.

“However, there was a four to six-week gap between the time drivers were finishing their training and when they could schedule a test. Our goal with partnering with Butler Testing Site (BTS) is to reduce that wait time to close the skills gap for CDL drivers in Butler County.

“Now our student wait time to be examined is under three days from completing the program, which has increased our passage rate and increased student career placement in the community.”

Butler Tech officials cited the most recent information available from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in noting there are 73,200 commercial trucking jobs in the state.

Butler Tech officials said there are 8,600 CDL driver jobs available in Ohio alone with about 231,100 openings projected nationwide for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers each year, on average, over the decade.

More than 2 million people drive large trucks in the U.S., according 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The trucking industry is short 61,000 drivers, officials at the American Trucking Association (ATA) reported and said new drivers are needed to bolster an aging workforce.

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Only drivers 18 years and older are eligible for the Butler Tech CDL program.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow drivers younger than 21 to drive large trucks within state boundaries, according to the ATA. The federal interstate age limit is 21 to drive large trucks, defined as having a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut into the pipeline of new drivers when trucking schools closed for several months and restrictions at state motor vehicle offices slowed the process of getting commercial driver’s licenses, said Kevin Burch, who was president of Jet Express Inc. before the Dayton trucking company was sold to Martin Transportation Systems.

The Butler County-based career school system is one of the largest in Ohio and serves both high school adult students in learning a wide-variety of career and job training and certification through many partnerships with local industries and health-care providers.

School officials said their new site, among other local CDL training providers, offers a five-week program to earn a commercial driver’s license. The goal of the BTS is to accommodate testing immediately after completion of the training program, they said.

Michael Berding, president of the governing Butler Tech school board, said the expanded CDL program is “another example of Butler Tech responding to a problem in the workforce.”

“The new CDL testing site cuts the wait time to get your CDL exam from 4 to6 months to about 3 days after graduation. Very proud of the work we are doing for adults in Butler County,” said Berding.

Staff Writer Lynn Hulsey contributed to this story

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