Milliken & Co. donates trailer to Spartanburg Community College’s new CDL driver training program

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Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co. has gifted a 53-foot trailer to Spartanburg Community College for its new CDL/truck driver training program that starts in November.

Spartanburg Community College (SCC) announced Tuesday, Oct. 3, it received the donation of a 53-foot trailer from Spartanburg-based Milliken & Co.

The trailer will be used to train students enrolled in SCC’s new commercial driver’s license (CDL) or truck driver training program that will begin in November.

“We are so appreciative to Milliken for their trailer donation for our new CDL program,” said SCC’s President Henry Giles, in a statement. “This will not only help us get this program up and running, but it will help us immediately produce trained and qualified graduates who can in turn join the trucking industry, one that literally keeps our state and nation moving by transporting goods all across the country.”

From left: Harold Chandler, CEO, president, and chairman of Milliken & Co.; Henry C. Giles, president of SCC; and Milliken officials Paul Pruitt, Thad Gregory, and Craig Haydamack.

The college said that, according to the S.C. Trucking Association, more than 80 percent of the Palmetto State relies on trucking. And trucks transport 84 percent of manufactured goods in the state, or 424,585 tons per day.

In 2013, the state’s trucking industry provided 88,370 jobs, or one out of every 17 jobs in South Carolina, according to the association.

SCC said in October 2016, the S.C. State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education submitted a study to the state’s General Assembly that found there was driver shortage among South Carolina’s 8,230 trucking firms.

Nationally, the shortage is even greater, the college said.

SCC cited numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor and the American Trucking Association that predict an additional 100,000 truck drivers or more will be needed in 2017. That number is expected to grow to 175,000 by 2014.

“There is a great shortage of drivers in part, due to the aging of truck drivers, many reaching retirement age in the last few years, plus not enough new drivers are entering the profession,” said Randall Parnell, director of SCC’s CDL/truck driver training program, in a statement. “That coupled with major growth in the economy and the need for more drivers means we are left with a shortage that needs to be filled immediately.”

“One could argue that there are a number of truck driver training schools in the area, which is true,” Parnell added. “But most are running close to full capacity and have a month or longer waiting list for new students to begin. These factors led Spartanburg Community College to opening a new truck driver training program to meet the growing shortage of drivers.”

Milliken’s chairman, president, and CEO Harold Chandler presented Giles with the trailer during a ceremony Tuesday at SCC. Chandler and other Milliken executives toured the college’s campus.

Giles said SCC and Milliken discussed opportunities with the school’s Technical Scholars Program and apprenticeships to help the textile and research company fill its workforce with qualified employees.

“Improved access to technical education and the career opportunities generated by that education can enhance the lives and well-being of our neighbors,” Chandler said in a statement. “Milliken is pleased to contribute to Spartanburg Community College’s new Commercial Driver’s License program and provide important support for our community’s future.”

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