The Commercial Truck Driving Career Expo will bring at least 10 companies looking to hire multiple drivers to the North Metro Campus in Acworth.
While unemployment rates remain high, the commercial truck driving industry faces a labor shortfall as baby boomer drivers retire. Chattahoochee Tech Commercial Truck Driving Program Director Ray Puckett was inspired to coordinate the school's first Commercial Truck Driving Career Expo to help industry partners find new drivers.
"My understanding is there is about a 400,000 driver shortage right now -- that was the latest report that I read," Puckett said. "Actually, this is a service that I'm providing for my industry leaders. They have been a tremendous help to me in the past and right now the industry is needing drivers in a terrific way. So I'm doing this to help them obtain drivers. There is a serious shortage in the country, and one of them told me the other day he needed 1,400 drivers yesterday."
In addition to retiring workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the heavy and tractor-trailer truck industry to grow by more than 300,000 drivers by the year 2020, a 21 percent employment increase.
This expected increase, as described in the 2010 BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, is based on a recovering economy and the need to transport more goods from producer to consumer. As Puckett describes it, "If you bought it, trucks brought it."
"About 40 percent of dry goods are running by rail, but if the end user is going to have it, it's going to be delivered by truck. A truck is always going to deliver it either from the rail yard or the shipping yard or the airport," Puckett said.
With a growing demand for talent, the BLS lists the 2010 median average income for a commercial truck driver at $37,770.
"I can take someone that's on welfare or unemployment -- I've had both cases -- they can actually go from rags to what I call riches. They can come into the program and within seven and a half to eight weeks can be driving a tractor-trailer -- provided they have a fair work record and a fair driving record, fair criminal history," Puckett said. "They can be earning anywhere from $45,000 to $70,000 per year -- that's a lot better than drawing unemployment."
The commercial truck driving program began at Chattahoochee Tech in 2003 and now conducts two seven-week courses each semester. The course consists of two weeks in the classroom before students spend 27 days behind the wheel preparing to get their Commercial Driver's License. As a Department of Driver Services third-party examiner, Puckett performs the final test on-site allowing students to leave campus with their CDL in hand.
Chattahoochee Tech has seen 90 percent of their graduates land jobs after leaving the commercial truck driving program. The 10 percent unable to be placed in jobs soon after graduation were due to issues that surfaced in their background check, said Puckett.
Included in the companies attending Saturday's career expo are Averitt Express, Crete Carrier Corporation, Shaffer Trucking, U.S. Express, Rosedale Transport and Maverick Transportation.
Positions may be offered to those without experience or a CDL. Tuition reimbursement is also possible.
The Chattahoochee Tech Commercial Truck Driving Career Expo will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. rain or shine at the North Metro Campus, 5198 Ross Road in Acworth. For more information, call 770-528-4545 or visit www.chattahoocheetech.edu.