It is getting tougher, and more expensive, to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Last year, the federal government made it a requirement that all licensees attend weeks of formal schooling in order to take the licensure test.
The change means significant expenditures of time and money for prospective drivers and employers. In an employment market where truck drivers are in high demand, Howard County decided it couldn’t sit idle. Howard County Highway Superintendent Amber Tolle approached the board of commissioners on Nov. 20, asking for assistance.
“Previously, we required a CDL Class B to even apply for the highway department,” said Tolle. “A federal mandate changed the CDL licensing procedure and required schooling for anyone who got a CDL license. This increases the costs for an individual to try to get that license and to try to elevate their work.
“So, in order to open up our pool of applicants that can apply for our work, and to them get a leg up and get into the system, we should offer to pay for some of the schooling to get the CDL license.”
Tolle explained that she worked with the human resources department and the county attorney to develop an employment contract. The agreement stipulates that in exchange for a three-year working commitment, the county will pay for the CDL schooling.
“If they have to break that commitment, then we will ask for them to repay that schooling on a prorated rate for the time that they've actually worked in the county,” said Tolle.
The commissioners voted unanimously to establish the benefit.