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Truck driver training program sees high enrollment despite driver shortages

In past years, about 10-12 people would graduate from the CFCC truck driver program, but this year they’ve been graduating 18-20 people on average
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:49 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There’s been a shortage of truck drivers for many years, but the shortage is now at an all time high. North Carolina Ports officials said that a shortage of truck drivers has been ongoing, having a negative effect on supply chains.

Cape Fear Community College has a Truck Driver Training Program that has been around for more than 20 years, but enrollment has nearly doubled over the past year. In past years, about 10-12 people would graduate from the program, but this year they’ve been graduating 18-20 people on average.

“The American Trucking Association, according to what they’re saying, they need about 900,000 truck drivers just to catch up on the supply chain that’s stopped up,” said Al Gover, Director for CFCC’s Truck Driver Training Program. “They’ve got ships waiting to get in to the docks but not enough trucks to pull the loads out. They’ve got 12 to 15 loads for every truck that pulls in there — if they could stack 12 loads on it they’d be good to go.”

This shortage is the reason why training more drivers is so important right now, but getting jobs after the program isn’t easy. Being away from family for days at a time while out on the road isn’t a sacrifice some are willing to take, but trucking companies are now trying to attract more drivers by offering better pay and requiring less experience for new drivers.

“A lot of guys that graduate from the school they think that they’re gonna be able to get a local job right off the bat — some do but they’re very rare because most of the local jobs are held by drivers that have put in their dues; they’ve been over the road three or four years,” Gover said.

Currently, about 80,000 drivers are needed, according to the American Trucking Association.

CFCC’s program is about eight weeks long and by the end a driver could have their commercial drivers license ready to hit the roads.

“I’m expecting this program to sort of explode over the next year,” Gover said.

Each new driver entering the workforce is a mile closer to ending the ongoing shipping delays.

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