Tech institute expands to meet emerging workforce demands

A truck built by Mack Trucks in Macungie sits in the training area where students at Lehigh Career & Technical Institute learn how to drive trucks. - (Photo / Brian Pedersen)

As skilled workers continue to be in strong demand for the manufacturing, distribution and warehouse industries, truckers are in need more than ever to transport products across the nation. One local resource is looking to capitalize on the training opportunities such growth represents.

As skilled workers continue to be in strong demand for the manufacturing, distribution and warehouse industries, truckers are in need more than ever to transport products across the nation. One local resource is looking to capitalize on the training opportunities such growth represents.

At Lehigh Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville, students manufacture materials out of electromechanical, welding and machining equipment, drive dump trucks and other heavy equipment on five acres of land or operate industrial trucks and forklifts as they learn about supply chain logistics.

Officials said the comprehensive instructional approach is aimed at giving students the skills they need by practicing the roles they will inhabit in their careers.

It’s a workforce model that looks to provide companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley with the type of labor pool they require, particularly in the fields of manufacturing, mechanics, heavy equipment, transportation and construction.

With nearly 10 million employees in the U.S. trucking industry, the demand for qualified drivers continues to grow. LCTI offers a truck-driver training program that pairs one student with one instructor.

“We do the one-on-one driver training and it gives them, we think, a very good foundation for learning how to drive those big rigs,” said Jan Klevis, director of post-secondary and workforce education for LCTI – a career and technical school for high-school age students as well as a workforce education school for adults.

The curriculum is nationally certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute, an organization whose endorsement carries a lot of weight with students looking for a job, according to Randy Zimmerman, training coordinator at LCTI.

The technical school has been certifying truck drivers with the organization since 1993 and training truck drivers to get their commercial driver’s license since 1971, Zimmerman said.

Truckers are not only needed to haul freight for logistics companies but are essential for the construction industry.

“On construction sites, you need flatbed trailers to move equipment,” Klevis said. “Many of the truck drivers have to know how to operate forklifts because they have to load and unload their own trucks.”

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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