The Lackawanna College School of Petroleum & Natural Gas (PNG) in Tunkhannock has recently partnered with the Susquehanna County Career and Technology Center (SCCTC) to provide students an opportunity to simultaneously pursue a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The endeavor is seen as a way to increase the experience of the PNG curriculum and value of the students when hired into the energy industry. Four students are part of a pilot program that started in early April.  

“I’m excited for our PNG students,” said LC PNG program director Sue Gumble. “Not only will they graduate with an in-demand degree and various industry certifications, but they also now have an opportunity to acquire a Class B license, which makes them stand out to an industry looking to hire multi-functional and highly skilled employees,” Gumble stated.“It’s a tremendous perk for them,” SCCTC CDL instructor Fisher added. “Whether they stay in the gas business or not, they still have a Class B license that’s good anywhere in the country.”

There are four phases to the Class B program, starting with students garnering general CDL knowledge in a classroom setting prior to obtaining a permit at a local DMV center. Once the permit is issued, the student will spend time practicing straight line backing, offset backing, parallel parking and manual shifting, on the CDL pad and on the driving simulator.

After learning these skills, students will transition to on-road training that will include practice on two different routes that prepare student drivers for a variety of hazards as prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Participation in the program is voluntary for PNG students who have to be committed to making the extra time to complete the CDL course. Funding for the program came from the schools and a grant by the Sordoni Family Foundation. The Foundation support is part of a larger grant to the CDL Training Center to assist students with out-of-pocket expenses to go through the program.

“Given the importance of trucking and qualified truck drivers to our economy and overall quality of life, the Sordoni Family Foundation is excited to provide our support to provide opportunities for Pennsylvania students to attend the course and obtain their certifications,” Foundation board member Bill Sordoni stated. “We believe the program will greatly enhance the viability of these important positions, provide our state with much-needed trucking services and continue to grow our economy.”

Each of the first students to take advantage of the partnership is looking forward to employment in the industry upon graduation in May and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this pilot program.