The Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) recently received $1.1 million in state funding for its professional Truck Driving Academy, aiming to fill a need for qualified truck drivers in southeast Texas.
“Due to the high demand and high pay for truck drivers, Lamar Institute of Technology’s Truck Driving Academy currently has a waiting list for those seeking this training,” said Miranda Phillips, dean of strategic and workforce initiatives at LIT. “These funds will enable LIT to increase training so our Truck Driving Academy can better serve the training needs of our community.”
The funding will help the Beaumont, Texas-based public technical school upgrade its facilities and equipment, and admit more students into the program. The $1.1 million came from a bill passed by Texas lawmakers during the recent 86th Texas Legislature.
The expanded Truck Driving Academy will be able to serve 90 students per year, which is 60 more students than are currently being trained at LIT. The cost of a Class A commercial license class starts at $3,000, while the cost of a Class B commercial license class starts at $1,500.
More than 54,000 job postings were listed for truck drivers in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Newton counties in southeast Texas from 2015-2017, according to data from Idaho-based EMSI, a labor market analytics site. Currently, heavy-duty and tractor-trailer truck drivers are in high demand in the area, said LIT officials.
Texas has 191,490 truck drivers, the most of any state in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Trucking Associations estimates there are 48,000 unfilled trucking jobs across the country.
Located 90 miles east of Houston on the busy Interstate-10 corridor, Beaumont is in a part of Texas heavy with refineries – including ethanol, gasoline, heavy crude oil and liquified natural gas.
Beaumont also has the nation’s fifth-ranked seaport in terms of annual tonnage, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Neches River links the port to the Gulf of Mexico, which is 42 miles upstream.