MADISON – Help is on the way to ease Alabama’s school bus driver shortage.
The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is partnering with local school systems to train school bus drivers through an online course and performance-based behind-the-wheel instruction.
The training meets or exceeds all safety regulations, including new federal requirements that went into effect in last February.
The training is also free-of-charge to local schools and to trainees thanks, in part, to $10 million in funding from the Legislature for the ACCS Innovation Center and its Skills for Success curriculum. Skills for Success delivers rapid, non-credit training for jobs that are in demand, such as school bus drivers.
During an announcement at the bus facility for Madison City Schools on Nov. 16, officials said ACCS is currently working with 100 local school systems to deliver Skills for Success training and that 145 new school bus drivers have already completed the training.
“There are labor shortages everywhere, particularly for school bus drivers. Every school system in Alabama has had unfilled bus driver positions,” said Eric Terrell, Assistant Superintendent of Madison City Schools. “Being able to work with the community college system to quickly train new bus drivers addresses an urgent need that is critically important to students and parents.”
Houston Blackwood, the Workforce Director of the Innovation Center, said Skills for Success training also saves school systems from the burden and cost of training new bus drivers.
“Skills for Success training is delivered at no cost to the participants or the school systems and has already saved the 106 school systems we are partnering with about $450,000,” Blackwood said. “We’re able to provide rapid training that increases the pool of qualified bus drivers in the state and reduces Alabama’s acute school bus driver shortage. At the same time, we’re providing quality training that helps more Alabamians get good jobs with good benefits.”
Trainees must pass a 15-hour theory course delivered online and then behind-the-wheel training taught by a qualified instructor. Once trainees pass all required tests, they receive their Commercial Driver License (CDL), Alabama School Bus Certification and an ACCS Credential to show the participant is job-ready.
In addition to school bus driver training, Skills for Success is offering no-cost training for jobs in the construction, trucking, and food and beverage industries. More training courses will be offered in the upcoming year for jobs in facilities maintenance, fiber optics, meat cutting, water treatment, accommodations, emergency medical response and other occupations.
About Skills for Success
Skills for Success is the Alabama Community College System’s rapid workforce training program launched earlier this year. It was developed in partnership with the state’s businesses and industries so the training is aligned with the skills employers say workers need to fill available jobs. Skills for Success training is offered at no cost to participants. The Innovation Center is a division of the Alabama Community College System that brings together the state’s community colleges, business and industry, and community partners to deliver Skills for Success training. Visit innovation.accs.edu for more information.