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Driving To Fill A Need: Instructional Schools See Rise In Signups With Trucking Companies Desperate For Drivers

PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – With trucking companies in desperate need of drivers, instructional schools are filling up fast in South Florida.

Competition is fierce for a slot at Sheridan Technical College West Campus in Pembroke Pines.

In just nine weeks, students can get a commercial drivers license. The school, part of the Broward school system, currently has six classes of students running simultaneously. But there is such demand they are adding a "seventh" class next month.

"We try to make sure they get not just a commercial drivers license but a thousand miles on the road while they are earning their CDL" said Assistant Director Barrett Goldman.

Some of the students say they were motivated to get their CDL after stories surfaced of ships loaded with containers stuck at sea in California because there aren't enough truckers to deliver the freight to warehouses and stores.

Javier Portillo, 38, is in his second week of classes at Sheridan Technical and says getting used to driving a big rig is tougher than it looks.

"Learning the turns and the manual transmission is challenging but the repetition makes it easier day by day," he said.

Besides learning the basics in the school's vast parking lot, students are taught on a sophisticated simulator complete with computer screens that mimic a real road and side view mirrors.

"Our average is upper twenties to early 30s but we have people in their 50s," said Goldman.

With Wednesday's announcement that operations will go 24-7 at California ports and Walmart, UPS and FedEx promising to ramp up their hours, student Kemar Glanville thinks he has made the right career choice

"There's opportunity here and I can get some good wages," he said.

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