FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A truck driving school is expanding and looking to train more drivers to help with the truck driving shortage, which is at an all-time high.

With the help of Fresno County leaders, they are looking to help farmers in the valley and bridge the gap between job opportunities and people who are looking for a job

“There’s a lot of job opportunities out there, competitive pay, good benefits, things like that,” says Corina Hernandez, a student.

Hernandez listed a few reasons why she decided to become a student at the John R. Lawson Truck Driving School, which opened up a new location in Fresno County on Thursday, hoping to fulfill 5,000 transportation careers by 2026

“Having this truck driver shortage for the last ten years it really was essential for someone to step up and say, ‘we need to make a difference here,’” says Lee Ann Eager of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.

The American Trucking Association reported a shortage of 80,000 drivers last year and the agricultural industry in the Central Valley feels that shortage every day.

“We obviously have a lot of products that we take out of this area into other parts of the state, other parts of the country. we need more truck drivers all the time. It’s essential to our economy here in Fresno County.” says Eager.

The six to eight-week training program is free to all students and paid for by the County of Fresno’s Department of Social Services. It is projected that nearly 5,000 new jobs will be added to the transportation sector in the valley between 2021 and 2026. The people behind the John R. Lawson School are hoping those students will fill some of those jobs and help the agricultural industry

“There will never be enough students to be able to fill all of those jobs, but we’re going to try. We’re going to try to double, triple, quadruple,” says Eager

Anyone interested can call the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation to get enrolled at (559) 476-2500.