TAMPA (CW44 News at 10) – As a shortage in truck drivers across the country threatens supply and demand, truck driving schools and their partners are working to recruit as many drivers as they can. Recent trucking school graduate, Kalvin Mitchell, comes from a background in IT and entertainment. But the pandemic is actually what caused him and his wife to start thinking of truck driving school, and now he has a message to share.

“I’ve seen Roadmaster for years, riding by, because I live here in Tampa. And my wife actually was the one who said ‘he maybe you can consider doing this, you know, since no one is able to do anything work-wise,” said Kalvin Mitchell.

Like many others looking for an employment solution during the pandemic, Mitchell says finally found his. As of Thursday he’s a graduate of Roadmaster drivers school in Tampa.

“All included it took maybe 3 and a half weeks,” said Mitchell.

A New Yorker by birth and raised in Tampa, he says his experience was a little different because of Covid-19.

“The first week that you’re here in class, you’re actually in a traditional classroom setting, but as soon as I got there, they had everybody social distanced. If you had, say, a table that would have maybe 5 computers on it, there were maybe only 2 students,” said Mitchell.

Classroom attendance has also been impacted.

“There was a shortage of about 50 thousand truck drivers and that shortage has been ongoing and expected to continue. As the economy recovers, we’re going to see the shortage larger and we’re going to see the supply smaller,” said Brad Ball, President of Roadmaster Drivers School.

Mitchell says he noticed the need in this essential workforce, so he began classes and graduated within a month.

“When you start thinking about the ripple effects of how a complete shut down due to a pandemic, how it can impact different things, then you start realizing how certain essential pieces are necessary,” said Mitchell.

“Certainly trucking, right now, appears to be not only recession proof but pandemic proof,” said Ball.

And now he’s working to make sure other potential truckers and those in the lane next to them understand their role as an essential workforce.

“Considering everything that’s going on currently, you really start understanding the individuals that are very necessary so that things can continue to move forward,” said Mitchell. “When you’re driving down the road and you see that big truck driving down the highway or running through the community, know that that person is doing an essential job necessary to make sure that the things that are run under the surface, day to day, all those things that are essential to life, are provided by individuals that do those roles.”

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