SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) – While the backup of container ships at the port is the most visible sign of the supply chain crisis, a shortage of truck drivers is also adding to the problem, which some people have taken as an opportunity to find new employment.
When Brian Smith was looking for a career change, he heard there was a lot of work in the trucking industry, which is why he decided to get trained for his license.
“The reason I’m getting into trucking is because I’m looking into moving out of state. So, I wanted more job opportunities and more jobs available to me in another state,” Smith said.
He turned to the Commercial Trucking School in Santa Clarita, where they require a total of 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training. According to school officials, Smith is not alone. The school has received several calls a day from interested students and employers.
“We have 14 companies calling us for our recent graduates. One of those companies is UPS,” said Isabel Charleston, owner of Commercial Trucking School. “I asked them one of them why us and they said, ‘We have some of your students and they’re great.’”
The American Trucking Association said in 2019 that it was going to be short at least 1 million drivers in the coming years. That was made worse by the pandemic, when many drivers retired early.
“Now we’re really behind and it’s an industry where we just can’t get enough. We’re also getting a lot of women who are coming and signing up with the industry,” Gil Banks, an instructor at the Santa Clarita school, said.
The owner of GSF Truck Training School, Edna Oliva, echoed the sentiments.
“Way more people trying to get their driver’s license. Our only issue is trying to get them past their driving test with DMV’s shortage,” she said.
GSF Truck Training School in Sylmar has seen a 20% jump in enrollment compared to 2019 and their students go through 12-16 weeks of training.
“A lot of youngsters are getting into this industry, a lot of people are becoming owner/operators. The amount of money they make, it’s a lot,” Oliva said.
After three years of truck driving, according to Charleston, drivers can make at least $80,0000 annually, with owner/operators making $120,000-$180,000 a year.
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“So far, it’s been great,” Smith said. “I absolutely love it.