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Truck driving school sees opportunities in driver shortage

<i>WLOS</i><br />
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By Caitlyn Penter

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    FLETCHER, North Carolina (WLOS) — Leaders in the trucking industry said they are seeing a record shortage of drivers. There was a shortage of drivers before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse since, they said.

The president of the American Trucking Associations told CNN the industry is short by about 80,000 truck drivers

Officials with TransTech, a truck driving school in Fletcher, said they’re seeing the demand from the nationwide driver shortage.

TransTech officials said they have companies calling them everyday.

Usually, with some jobs, they want experienced drivers. That’s not the case anymore.

Doug Gragg, site manager at the driving school, said he’s been in the trucking business for four decades and this is the most demand he’s seen.

“Every week, we get anywhere from five to 12, 15 calls a week. ‘Hey, Doug, you got a graduating class, got any drivers we can put to work out there?'” Gragg said.

Gragg said companies are paying people to get trained.

“From our corporate partners, they’re sending more students, they’re getting to where they’re even offering tuition reimbursement,” Gragg said.

He said the jobs are there, it’s just about finding people to fill them.

“I was looking for another career after I got laid off from my previous job because of the shutdown, and trucking, there’s a lot of jobs out there now,” said Chris Franklin, who is about to graduate from the school.

Students at the school said they noticed the demand and the benefits that come with it.

“I was in a dead-end career mainly doing office work. I didn’t make much. And it’s circumstances. My kids were now grown, and it just seemed like a good time,” said Theresa Nobles, who is two weeks into her training.

Gragg said since he’s been in this business the pay per mile has more than quadrupled.

According to Indeed, the average truck driver salary in Asheville is $73,000.

“I love it. It’s a diversified industry. It’s welcoming to all. As long as you’re over 21, we don’t really care how old you are, where you come from,” Gragg said.

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