Perdue, Wor-Wic Partner On Driver Shortage Initiative

Perdue, Wor-Wic Partner On Driver Shortage Initiative
Rich Hernandez, vice president of transportation and warehousing at Perdue Farms, checks out the mobile driving simulator at Wor-Wic Community College as college President Ray Hoy looks on. Submitted Photo

SALISBURY – The United States is experiencing a shortage of more than 80,000 truck drivers, according to an estimate from the American Trucking Associations (ATA). The ATA also estimates that about 72% of America’s freight transport moves by trucks, which shows just how dependent consumers are on the drivers who deliver chicken products to stores or gas to pumps or anything ordered online.

Perdue Farms and Wor-Wic Community College, both based in Salisbury, are working to ensure that residents of the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland can take advantage of the growing job market and work to ease transport and supply chain issues.

Through its charitable giving arm, the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, Perdue Farms has pledged $120,000 to fund a new simulation lab for students in the commercial driver’s license (CDL) course at Wor-Wic. The lab will be part of the college’s new Patricia and Alan Guerrieri Technology Center, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2023. The center’s CDL simulation lab will allow students to experience the controls and feel of being in a big rig, under all kinds of weather and road conditions, even before they get behind the wheel of one of Wor-Wic’s real training vehicles.

“Perdue’s pledge will make a difference to our students,” said Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic. “They have enhanced our ability to ensure that we are teaching on the latest state-of-the-art equipment and that we have the financial resources needed to maintain our CDL program, which in turn supports our local businesses in their transport needs.”

Wor-Wic offers CDL training programs that lead to both class A and class B licenses for commercial driving, and currently instructs 70 to 105 commercial drivers every year.

“At Perdue, we employ just under 400 commercial truck drivers to deliver our products to our customers and consumers,” said Rich Hernandez, vice president of transportation and warehousing for Perdue Farms. “We’re always looking for experienced drivers to join our fleet. Programs like this at Wor-Wic provide an excellent training ground for new drivers and are beneficial for our company as well.”

The CDL simulation lab builds on the success of Wor-Wic’s current simulator, which is housed in a mobile classroom. It vividly recreates the visuals and sensation of driving an 18-wheeler, with variable weather, terrain and the variety of transmissions used in commercial trucks.

“Wor-Wic has a long history of providing programming when needs in our local workforce arise. Their current campaign is doing this in so many ways,” said Kim Nechay, executive director of the Perdue Foundation. “We are so very proud to invest in the expansion of their truck driver training program – especially the new CDL simulators – and other equipment for their new applied technologies building. The efforts of Wor-Wic today will certainly provide for a strong tomorrow for the Shore and beyond.”