What started as a fundraising effort for a single big rig truck through the Umpqua Community College (UCC) Foundation has ended with an added bonus. Thanks to generous community and industry support, the College is set to receive two new trucks for its truck driving program.
Truck driving is currently one of Oregon’s most difficult-to-fill occupations. The highest number of vacancies (74%) are located in Southwestern Oregon. To meet the industry’s rising demand, it is estimated 90,000 new drivers will need to be hired nationwide each year for the next decade. The College’s truck driving program, which is offered through Community and Workforce Training, currently trains 30-50 students a year; a trend that has lasted for past five years. Once students complete the four-week program, their job placement rate has ranged between 87% and 95% over the past three years.
To keep the program moving in the right direction, the UCC Foundation raised $46,000 for a truck through its annual Legacy Ball this past November. While shopping for a vehicle, local community partner, Andy Owens from A&M Trucking, reached out to Daimler Trucks North America. The company not only agreed to assist with the initial truck’s funding, it donated an additional truck valued at $80,000 from its corporate test fleet. Both trucks are 2015 Cascadia models.
“We are thrilled with the donation of 2015 Freightliner Cascadia from Daimler and Freightliner Northwest,” Robin VanWinkle, UCC’s Director of Community and Workforce Training, said. “The addition of an auto-shift to our fleet helps us train future drivers using state-of-the-art equipment.”
The trucks are equipped with new safety features and the newer technology drivers are expected to use on the job. The first truck was delivered to the College by Freightliner Northwest’s Mark Christie and Todd Tracy on Feb. 21. UCC’s second truck will arrive this month.
“This truly is a fantastic project and should be modeled around our dealer network and the country at large,” Christie, Freightliner Northwest’s Senior Fleet Account Manager, said. Freightliner Northwest facilitated the donation on behalf of Daimler.