Employers are having a tough time filling some of the best paying jobs available in the Northern San Joaquin Valley that start out as high as $70,000 a year and often include signing bonuses.
That has prompted Manteca Unified through its Adult School to roll out a program designed with the help of area employers scrambling for workers to provide the basic skills needed for local residents to qualify for and land jobs as Commercial Class A truck drivers as well as skilled positions within the logistics and warehouse industry.
Manteca Adult School is conducting an open house this Saturday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Manteca Unified School District complex at Airport Way and Louise Avenue to showcase the programs they are offering as well as the job opportunities. Participating in the open house are firms such as Mountain Valley Express, Western Truck Center, BR Funsten & Co., Advance Bus and Trucking, Delicato Family Vineyards, Allen Distribution, A.C. Trucking, Terrill Transportation, and San Joaquin County Work Net.
There will be vendors as well as a big rig and other equipment on display. The day will include food, beverages, prizes and live broadcasts by KWIN 97.7 and 98.3.
Clara Schmiedt, the Manteca Unified Director of Secondary Education, said the goal is to have graduates of the programs offered through Manteca Adult School in trucking and logistics “job ready”.
Instructor Ryan Costa spent extensive time meeting with area employers to craft a program based on their needs so those completing of the new Manteca Adult School Logistics and Transportation career pathway program will be have a good chance of being hired.
Area employers have been eager to help develop the program so they can grow a workforce.
Currently local employers report warehouse capacity at distribution centers in Tracy, Patterson, Stockton, Manteca, and Lathrop are operating at 90 to 95 percent capacity as they lack key skilled workers for in-house logistics operations as well as qualified drivers. Exacerbating the situation is the ongoing boom in new distribution centers locating in the area plus the fact many drivers today are nearing retirement.
There is a shortage of commercial truck drivers nationally. Experts say there is a need for at least 175,000 drivers by 2024.
Most truck driving jobs in the region are ones where drivers return home at night and don’t stay on the road for days. Many people are under the impression that the available trucking jobs are long distance hauling instead of day trips.
The courses Manteca Adult School will offer in the logistic and transportation field include introduction to logistics, introduction to warehouse operations, introduction to forklift operations, and commercial driving fundamentals.
The Manteca Unified program is modeled after similar offerings through Patterson Unified School District.
Certified forklift operators graduating from the program start off at $19.46 in jobs in Patterson where — like Tracy, Lathrop, Stockton, and now Manteca — is experiencing rapid growth in distribution center jobs.
All 50 Patterson graduates last year were snapped up by area firms that were willing to hire significantly more from the program than Patterson High had enrolled in the vocational course.
While there are a number of trucking firms clamoring for full-time drivers, Patterson Unified noted there is a high demand for additional seasonal drivers to move agricultural commodities offer summer employment that can earn a Patterson High graduate $12,000 in three months after completing the professional trucking school program. College bound students see the program as a way to earn money for college so they can avoid piling up crushing debt while pursuing college degrees.
Registration is now underway for all adult school classes including the logistics and transportation offerings. The fall session starts Aug. 22 and runs through Dec. 20. The spring semester runs from Jan. 23 through May 22.
Other courses run the gamut from English language learners, high school equivalency courses to career and technical education to prepare for careers in office work, health fields, fabrication and more.
Scholarships are available for students that need assistance and can qualify for help.
More information can be found at mantecausd.net, by calling (209) 858-7330 or dropping by the Manteca Adult School at 2271 W. Louise Ave. in Manteca west of Airport Way Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.