Chicago Transit Authority launched a partnership with Olive-Harvey College that will offer a free preparatory course that will help candidates in meeting the hiring requirement of obtaining a commercial learner's permit (CLP). A CLP is needed to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) Class "B".
The two week course is available to qualified CTA applicants with the authority covering the costs of tuition, training, books, fees and other expenses associated with the program, including the cost of the permit exam, in an effort to remove financial barriers for students to pursue and complete the program.
“Olive-Harvey College is committed to be of service to our students and city while also meeting the talent needs of employers. We are excited this partnership with CTA will help build a pipeline of amazing bus operators while positively impacting transportation services in our communities,” said Dr. Kimberly Hollingsworth, president, Olive-Harvey College.
The partnership with Olive-Harvey College supports the authority's pandemic recovery plan, "Meeting the Moment: Transforming CTA's Post-Pandemic Future," which prioritizes making service more reliable and consistent; enhancing system security; upgrading customer communication technologies; improving the overall experience at facilities and further investing in transit employees.
“One of the supporting pillars of the ’Meeting the Moment’ Action Plan focuses on delivering reliable and consistent service, which is not possible unless CTA can hire the workforce needed to operate scheduled service,” said CTA President Dorval Carter, Jr. “This program, which began in August, has already produced a dozen new hires currently in training, showing that thinking outside the box and finding ways to reduce barriers will be vital in speeding up the bus operator hiring process.”
The CDL program partnership with Olive-Harvey is one of many initiatives the CTA has undertaken to address workforce challenges brought on by the pandemic. Like other transportation entities, from airlines to trucking companies, the CTA faces the effects of the Great Resignation and challenges of recruiting in a competitive industry.
Other measures taken by the CTA to address these issues include recent changes to workforce rules allowing for the direct hire of full-time operators, increased wages and improved healthcare benefits, strong recruiting and marketing efforts, as well as hosting both virtual and in-person job fairs.
“The CTA provides the opportunity to not just serve the city of Chicago as bus operator, but also start a career in transportation that provides good pay and benefits,” said Tom McKone, CTA chief administrative officer. “This partnership with Olive-Harvey helps eliminate what is often the biggest hurdle for many qualified candidates and allows them to take their first step towards establishing their future career.”