Article originally published in the Waushara Argus.
A hand shake here and a meeting there, along with a few introductions and a little brainstorming. That’s how employees at Fox Valley Technical College have worked with many leaders and citizens throughout the Waushara region for a long time. The simple and successful relationship-building model has served the region well for forty years when it comes to responding to workforce needs and quality of life issues.
With a new FVTC regional center on the campus of Wautoma High School expected to open this fall, momentum behind the latest educational initiative has shifted into high gear. Enter truck driving as the newest career training opportunity in store for greater Waushara County.
FVTC’s Truck Driving program is a career fast pass that typically remains stable, especially during a strong economy. Take the reliability of steady work and combine it with drastic changes in technology and family-friendly routes, and the career resembles an industry makeover. Spacious cabs, GPS systems that optimize route efficiency, and flexible schedules are attracting more drivers.
“We’re seeing a huge demand for truck drivers, and there is no formal training for these careers in this part of the state,” said Sam Eustice, one of FVTC’s veteran truck driving instructors. “It’s been an honor to see interest grow for a truck driving program in recent years by just talking to different people throughout Waushara County about this chance to learn a valued skill.”
In FVTC’s service area alone, there are nearly one-hundred job postings a month for skilled truck drivers, with an average annual starting salary of more than $46,000 based on the college’s most recent graduate employment research. The Wautoma community is conveniently located near some of the state’s major thoroughfares, making the new training program even more relevant.
Starting this fall FVTC will begin offering the truck driving program through its new Wautoma regional center. Students will use the facility for classroom instruction and then begin training in one of the college’s state-of-the-art semis. Currently both college and county officials are exploring possible locations to house and maintain the trucks in Wautoma.
Upon completion of the program, trainees will have earned their Class A Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, along with a technical diploma from FVTC. “It’s the best of both worlds,” added Eustice. “We’ll provide people of the region with a solid career path in about ten weeks while helping local commerce in the long run.”
Students in the program will experience part of their over-the-road training by driving trucks from Wautoma to FVTC’s high-tech semi course on its Appleton campus. They will then return in the same eighteen-wheelers to Wautoma at the end of the day. Preliminary plans reveal that the new Wautoma offering will run four days a week for ten weeks with fresh cohorts beginning and perhaps overlapping on a regular basis.
Eustice believes the Wautoma program could pull students of all ages from Marshfield, Stevens Point, and surrounding areas. “This part of Wisconsin has always enjoyed a great reputation for training due in part to the Operating Engineers in Coloma and our center being here for decades,” he stated.
Getting things done for the Wautoma community and Waushara region is one example of how smaller towns can personify big lessons for living in today’s impersonal world. “The whole birth of this program shows the power of people coming together on an interpersonal level,” concluded Eustice. “Sit down, tell your story, and others will join in to grow the idea.”
Those interested in learning more about the FVTC Wautoma Truck Driving program can call 920-735-4769.
FVTC in Wautoma
2018 marks 40 years of a Fox Valley Technical College regional center in Wautoma. Here’s a snapshot of the new state-of-the-art center, scheduled to open in time for the fall semester in 2018:
- Location is the Wautoma High School campus. Construction to begin in spring with the facility to house the Wautoma Area School District office and Workforce Development Job Center.
- Approximately 12,000 square feet
- Features a nursing lab and adjacent classroom, industrial bay, and welding lab.
- Expanded offerings are planned for CNA, industrial maintenance, and truck driving
- All classrooms will be set up for Blackboard Collaborate. Two of the four classrooms are computer furnished, and all space will be designed for flexible learning.
Learn more about the FVTC Wautoma Regional Center >>