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'High demand' | Truck driver training programs overloaded with students earning CDLs

The American Trucking Association said the U.S. needs more than 80,000 drivers, with rising diesel prices and supply chain disruptions impacting the industry.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The demand for truck drivers continues to grow with tens of thousands of openings nationwide, including right here in the Carolinas. 

Several community colleges and training programs are loaded with students looking to earn their commercial driver's license (CDL) and begin a career behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina, is among the schools in the Carolinas with programs training new drivers. 

The college recently received a donation of two day-cab trucks. The school also purchased a sleeper cab truck that will allow more students to be trained on the road for driving lessons. 

The American Trucking Association said the U.S. needs more than 80,000 drivers. More than 72% of the country's freight is transported by truck, making consumers reliant on drivers. 

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Students are required to complete 400 hours to finish Robeson Community College's program, which runs on a five-day schedule for daytime students and two-day schedule for night classes. The next night class will begin July 18. 

"The program is in high demand," Cassidy Campbell, director of workforce development and customized training, said. "We currently have a waiting list of 40 students ... If we could get another sleeper cab, we could definitely double our enrollment and offer more classes. We could have no problem filling the classes. 

Closer to Charlotte, veteran trucker Micah Conor launched his own training school in the Queen City this year. Conor, who has more than a decade of experience, told WCNC Charlotte his program would focus on low-income people who may be deterred by the start-up costs of becoming a trucker. 

"More veteran people, drivers like me, can get out here and produce more drivers for companies," Conor said. "We can keep the world going, keep the cycle going. Everybody’s happy."  

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