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HOPE cuts slow truckers' graduation


June 21, 2012- ALBANY, GA from WALB- The headlines are often grim when it come to the job market. But one industry is in desperate need of thousands of workers.

Like many new graduates, Michael Fincher had a degree, but no job.

"I went to EMT school. I graduated and here in Albany, I can't find a job. If you look in the paper what do you see? I need a CDL driver. I need a truck driver," said Fincher.

And odds are good when he graduates from Albany Tech's truck driving program, he'll be hired on to command the wheel of a big rig.

"It's pretty much guaranteed almost to have a job when we get out of here," he said.

"They call me everyday asking for everybody I can send them," said Instructor Kenny Rogers. He's referring to trucking firms looking to fill an estimated 400,000 jobs nationwide over the next 2 years. 2,300 of those are in Georgia.

Rogers would typically have 30 students enrolled in his 8 week program. But due to HOPE scholarship cuts he says, "Day and night class now we average anywhere from 6 to 12."

But there is an upswing to paying out of pocket. The 8 week program costs roughly $1100 and with a 98% placement rate, companies are willing to cover the cost.

"The companies we deal with now offer tuition reimbursement up to $6000," Rogers said.

It's a success story for student Marcus Jackson.

"I filled out a job application for different trucking companies yesterday and I already got job offers today," he said. "I never thought it would work that fast. But it's fast and it's a good program,"

And there are other success stories. Roger says a single mom who went through the program is now a certified truck driver.

"About 4 months later she came by the school and showed her first paycheck. She said I've never made this much money in my entire life. She said this is for a week and I used to make this in a month," Rogers said.

The next program starts in July and there is room available. The student drivers get driver training throughout the state of Georgia.

See the orginal story at WALB