In an effort to help fill the demand for available jobs in the region, Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) is starting a new program: a truck driving school.

GTCC President Randy Parker announced the new program this week at a meeting of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) at the community college’s Cameron Campus in Colfax.

GTCC has begun by purchasing two tractors – not the farming kind, but the kind referred to in “tractor-trailer truck” – so that students can train to drive big rigs.

There is expected to be a lot of interest in the program because there’s such a large demand for drivers in this area.  Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson runs a trucking company and he said after the announcement that, day in and day out, his company and other area trucking companies are looking for qualified drivers.

“A lot of them are aging out,” he said of truck drivers.

According to Branson, while decades ago a good many people were going into the occupation, in recent years there’s been fewer and fewer.  He said the new program at GTCC is a very welcome addition and it could help spur some interest in the field.

Greensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brent Christensen, who’s also a staff leader of GCEDA, said the demand for truck drivers is “huge” in this region.  He said one reason is that logistics and transportation are very big business in Guilford County and the surrounding area.

He added that it will be great to have a local training option.

According to Christensen, the demand for drivers is very strong across the country.

“It’s also a nationwide issue,” he said of the lack of drivers.

A 2018 Washington Post article stated that America was experiencing a “massive” shortage of truck drivers and it cited a Minnesota company that had increased driver pay 15 percent to try to attract more drivers.  According to that article, even with many drivers earning $80,000 a year, that company and other trucking companies couldn’t find enough trained ones to fill the jobs.

A lot of the increased demand is coming from online retailers such as Amazon, a company that’s ramping up its operations in Guilford County.

GTCC already offers courses in diesel and heavy equipment mechanics at the new state of the art GTCC Center for Advanced Manufacturing.  According to the school’s promotional literature for that program, the transportation industry is one of the most profitable career paths available for students.