ATLANTA—The Coca-Cola Company announced it has donated $1 million to the Technical Colleges System of Georgia's Commercial Truck Driving Program to support training and job opportunities, according to a news release.
The donation will create 11 new full-time instructor roles and two part-time instructor roles, and it also supplements the $8.32 million of support from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund that will provide facility upgrades, with the goal of doubling enrollment of commercial drivers across Georgia from 1,705 to 3,410 in 2023.
“As residents and businesses across the state work to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to invest in our communities and provide opportunities that will improve the lives of our fellow Georgians,” said Alfredo Rivera, president of The Coca-Cola Company’s North America operating unit. “We are proud of our Georgia roots and will continue to do our part to keep Georgia strong.”
Last year, the trucking industry was short by 80,000 drivers, which was a record high, according to the American Trucking Associations. ATA’s Chief Economist Bob Costello says that although new truckers are entering the industry, the number of new drivers isn’t keeping up with the increased demand for goods. Costello says that based on driver demographic trends, including gender and age, as well as expected freight growth, the shortage could surpass 160,000 in 2030.
There were 3.36 million truck drivers employed in the U.S. in 2020, a 6.8% drop from the number employed in 2019, according to ATA.
Coca-Cola will tour the state in May via semi-truck, with stops in Vidalia, Macon, Savannah, Athens and Tifton, to drive awareness about Coca-Cola UNITED job opportunities and TCSG’s Commercial Truck Driving Program enrollment process.
Walmart announced earlier this month that it will pay its truck drivers up to $110,000 in their first year, and the retailer is launching a 12-week program that allows its supply chain associates in the Dallas, Texas, and Dover, Delaware, areas to earn their commercial driver’s license and become long-haul truck drivers for Walmart. Walmart currently pays its drivers an average about $87,500 in their first year.
The median pay for truck drivers is $47,130 per year, which is higher than the median for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average private fleet driver earns more than $86,000 a year, according to ATA.
To recruit more drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is allowing drivers age 18 to 20 years old to drive semi-trucks across state lines under a pilot program by the Transportation Department.
The apprenticeship program is allowed under the infrastructure law passed earlier this year, which included a Trucking Action Plan. The plan aims to improve trucker retention and recruit more truck drivers and in return, help the national supply chain for the long-term.
NACS Magazine shared how carriers are casting a wider net for applicants to fill truck driving jobs in “Women on the Road” in the October 2021 issue.