Reporting Tony Lopez
Their stories are common, but their approach to dealing with tough economic times is not.
Out of work and out of luck, local white collar employees were not out of ideas.
With our nation’s economic engine sputtering, they decided to check under the hood to look for another way to get moving.
They found it by turning the key and turning the corner. Shifting gears by discovering the “blue jeans, blue collar” world of trucking. For these faces of the economy, it’s been a full turn to a road less traveled.
The business is wide open and Trucking School Operations Manager Bob Schauer will be the first to tell you.
There are an awful lot of new faces he never thought he’d see.
The most recent numbers from the Labor Department show the unemployment rate among white collar workers has been steadily hovering around 6 percent.
For perspective, the only other time it reached 6 percent for a prolonged time was in November of 1982 and the start of 1983.
“The pay is good, you can travel, you can see places that you never got to see,” said Brian Britt, who made the switch when his job as a physician’s assistant was not getting him many hours. “If there’s no work out there, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t do it.”
“Right now, the companies are actually crying for drivers,” said Schauer.
And those cries will only get louder according to experts. Over the next three years the trucking industry will be 3000 drivers short.
“There’s jobs everywhere,” said Tammy Minatre, who lost her job as an executive assistant. “It’s a growing industry.”
And Minatre’s callback list is growing.
“Right now, I have four offers from major companies,” said Minatre.
As for her husband:
“I think every place I applied for they sent me an acceptance letter,” he said.
Britt hasn’t even graduated, but has two trucking companies ready to hand him the keys.
“And that’s before I even finish school, yeah, it’s amazing,” said Britt.
What he calls amazing, you might call a last resort. Let’s face it, trucking isn’t for everyone. You’re away for days at a time, the hours are early and long; but in this job market, more opinions are shifting gears and more people out of work are rethinking their options.
“Most of the people in my class are unemployed,” said Britt.
They may not be for long, Western Pacific Truck School has a 90 percent job placement rate at graduation, with an average first year starting salary at $42,000 a year.
“I work some odd hours but at least I’m working,” said Minatre’s husband.
Working without worrying, these new truckers will tell you about how long they’ll have a job.
“This is one industry that cannot be outsourced to another country,” said Schauer.
The word might soon be spreading. One way to get this economy moving might be just to keep on truckin’.
“I’ve already got my bags packed,” said Britt. “I’m ready.”