MOCKSVILLE (June 1, 2022) — With the supply-chain delays we face these days, there’s never been a more important time to train truck drivers.
“Even your automobile came to the dealership on a truck. Everything you own at some point was on a truck,” Jeff Ferguson, Director of the Truck Driver Training Program at Davidson-Davie Community College, says in the accompanying video.
“If we have a truck shortage or a driver shortage, parts shortage for the trucks, it all affects the supply-chain issues,” Ferguson says.
Indeed, the entire nation faces a shortage of truck drivers — some estimates place the shortage of drivers at 12,000 in North Carolina alone.1
In response, the N.C. General Assembly included an extra $5 million in the state budget this year to help community colleges train more drivers.2
In addition to Davidson-Davie, for example, Randolph Community College in Asheboro partnered with Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst and Central Carolina Community College in Sanford to offer new truck-driver training this spring.3
AT DAVIDSON-DAVIE, Ferguson says the return on an eight-week training program for a Commercial Driver’s License can’t be beat.
“When they leave here they can pretty easily make $50,000 or $60,000 their first year. Second year drivers, $70,000. And as you travel the highways right now, you’ll see billboards advertising driver openings with pay like $100,000, $110,000 for a solo driver,” Ferguson says.
“The return on the investment – you’re not gonna find this anywhere else. An eight-week school at a very reasonable cost, and you go straight into a $50,000- or $60,000-a-year job.”
Even at the depths of the Great Recession in 2008, “There were really no jobs to be found except for two categories: nursing and trucking,” Ferguson says.
“There’s always going to be a demand for nurses, always going to be a demand for truck drivers, no matter how bad the economy.”
DAVIDSON-DAVIE puts its students behind the wheel early on in their training.
“There’s gotta be a first day at some point. So we make that first day early,” Ferguson says.
“We get them as much seat time as possible. You’re not gonna learn to do this sitting in the classroom driving a desk. You’re gonna have to get out and drive the truck.”
He also notes a growing phenomenon in the trucking industry: Female drivers.
A few years ago, he says, women accounted for about 10% of truck-driving students, but now they account for about 20%.
2 https://webservices.ncleg.gov/ViewNewsFile/59/S105-CCSMLxr-3v5, p. 457.