Fracking, funding cuts create shortage of traditional truckers - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Fracking, funding cuts create shortage of traditional truckers

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DENISON -- There's a shortage of truck drivers nationwide so why are the majority of students at a Texoma truck driving school being turned away?

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Right now, tens of thousands of truck drivers are needed to fill positions nationwide.

But recent funding cuts and the booming oil business are making certain jobs even more difficult to fill.

When Tom Randolph lost his job at a plant in the Metroplex to outsourcing, he enrolled in the Grayson College Truck Driving School. However, at age 53, Randolph says he has no interest in traditional trucking and hopes to find a job driving for an oil company for the better hours and better pay.

"You can come right out of a school right now, similar to this there and be making over $20 an hour," Randolph said.

Grayson College Truck Driving School director Gary Graley says there's been a labor shortage in the trucking industry for years.

But, he says, the now booming oil business, especially in Texas, is siphoning from the applicant pool for traditional trucking even more, luring drivers by paying close to six-figure salaries while avoiding weeks away from home.

"Most of these oil operations are needing everyone at an oil field location to have a CDL, and more and more, I'd say 75% of the students coming in are wanting to go to the oil field," Graley said. "That is a huge change and huge shift from most people coming in doing traditional truck driving."

As the problems finding traditional truckers persist, there's also a problem at Grayson College getting people into the program in the first place. Funding cuts, in recent years, means fewer grants are being awarded so Graley says about 90% of applicants have to be turned away because they can't pay.

"So it's been a challenge," Graley said.

Because the school is only four-weeks long, applicants are unable to qualify for a FAFSA or traditional student loan.

In Randolph's class, only one of the six students paid the $4,300 course fee out-of-pocket.

The rest, including Randolph, were lucky enough to land a grant, putting them in the fast lane to a lucrative new career on the open road.