Trucking companies search for more drivers amid nationwide shortage

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A nationwide truck driver shortage is causing slower deliveries to your door, but it is also creating a fast lane to a job, for anyone who is interested.

“If you bought it on the internet, bought it in the store, bought it anywhere, chances are it got delivered on a truck,” said Thomas Praytor, instructor with Bishop State Community College truck driving training.

According to the American Trucking Association, by the end of 2018, the industry had a shortfall of 60,000 drivers.

“This problem that we have right now is the 30- to 40-year-old veterans that have been driving their whole life are getting ready to retire or have already retired, so the younger generation right now is just going over the road, staying over the road is not appealing to them,” Praytor said.

Shipping has increased since last year, partly due to the pandemic. The trucking industry moves more than 70 percent of all freight. The American Trucking Association says more than a million new drivers will need to be hired over the next decade to meet the demand.

“We have a lot of companies calling us almost daily trying to hire students, hire anybody we may know to come to work to drive a truck over the road, local, wherever it may be. There just a shortage in every part of the truck driving industry right now,” Praytor said.

Bishop State Community College has the largest truck driving school in the state of Alabama. They offer an eight-week program.

“We have probably 15-20 companies that come and talk to our students to try and persuade them to come work for them once they graduate,” Praytor said.

They begin teaching their students on a simulator. “It’s basically everything you can do in a truck, we can do in a simulator. We can teach them how to change gears,” Praytor said. He continued, “it’s really been beneficial to get our students more acclimated with a truck and trailer before we get them out on the road.”

The demand is so high they say companies are hiring their students as soon as they graduate.

“Bishop State truck driving is one of the only colleges I know of you can go to school for 8 weeks and come out making at least $1,000 a week,” said Praytor.

Some companies are offering tuition reimbursement to encourage more drivers to get on the road.

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