OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — As the demand to hire truck drivers continues to increase, Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is looking to expand its commercial drivers license (CDL) training program. 

Elisa Waldman, vice president of workforce development and continuing education, said right now there are about 60 people on a waiting list to participate in the program. 

“Demand continues to increase. We spoke with an employer last week who is anticipating bringing on 200 more CDL drivers in the next year,” Waldman said. “Almost everyone is in need of truck drivers right now in order to continue healing the supply chain and then expanding the supply chain post-pandemic.” 

JCCC’s training program combines classroom learning and behind-the-wheel training to prepare students to pass their CDL test in either Kansas or Missouri. The college offers students two options for CDL training: a full-time, four-week course and a 10-week, weekend course. 

Waldman said as enrollment continues to grow, the driving portion of the course is currently being taught at three separate properties throughout the southern part of the county. 

Last week, the JCCC Board of Trustees approved a plan to consolidate the training sites. The college is now searching for roughly 10 acres of land to purchase to create a single dedicated CDL training site. 

The $5 million project will be funded through a grant from the state, a large private donation and revenue from the college’s CDL fund. 

JCCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the state’s Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) program, which is funded with federal COVID-19 relief money. The college also received a $2 million donation from the Sunderland Foundation and will use roughly $500,000 in CDL revenues to meet the state required match for the grant. 

“We are very appreciative of Sunderland’s understanding of this need and the service that they are going to be able to help provide to our students and to the community,” Waldman said.  

Last year, 334 people obtained their CDL through the JCCC program. Waldman said the new driving range will allow JCCC to serve more than 500 CDL trainees annually. 

“The mission of JCCC is to inspire learning to transform lives and strengthen communities. This is one of those programs, our CDL program, that truly hits the mark. We can see in a four week or ten week period the transformation that takes place both for the students, the companies they might work for, the economy and their families,” Waldman said. 

Waldman said the college hopes to open the new driving range site within the next year. Prospective students can find more information on the CDL program the JCCC website or by calling the registration office at 913-469-2323.