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SPC training drivers to help with nationwide trucker shortage

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texans are feeling the effects of a nationwide disruption in the supply chain. One part of the problem, there aren’t enough truck drivers on the road to move products.

The truck driver shortage has been growing for years. Jay Warnick, the director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at South Plains College, says over the course of 2020, there were 60,000 open positions for drivers in Texas, with almost 1,500 of those in West Texas.

Austin Hendricks is in on the road to becoming a fourth-generation truck driver.

“I just remember going in the cow truck with dad, and it just, it grew on me and I knew that was what I wanted to do. So, it’s just been something I’ve always wanted. And so, finally getting on with it,” Hendricks said.

He’ll enter the industry in two weeks, in the middle of a supply chain shortage, with thousands of jobs available.

“That’s something that’ll always be needed is trucks,” Hendricks said.

The American Trucking Association estimates there could be a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2028. Warnick and his team at SPC’s Professional Truck Driving School are doing what they can to get more people into the driver’s seat.

The four-week program can take on up to 12 students per class.

“We do have some that may have passed their permit, but most of them have never been in a tractor trailer, they’ve never driven. And so yes, in four weeks you can be a licensed driver and go out and get a great job,” Warnick said.

Students spend time in the classroom, safety and simulation training, and out on the road, so they can graduate with their Commercial Driver’s License.

For Larry Hall, getting a CDL was always plan B.

“Me personally, I got kids and want to build a better future for them,” Hall said.

Getting that license may make building that future a little easier. Warnick says companies are competing for workers, offering bigger bonuses and increasing salaries.

“If you want to do this type of work and you want to go to college and be at South Plains College, this is the place to do it. And then at 18, you can go out and get a $40,000-plus-a-year job to start out with and that’s fabulous,” Warnick said.

“The doors are open. Once you get that license, the doors are going to be open. So, I start working tonight, so that’s how fast it can happen for you,” recent graduate Devlynn Javon said.

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