Driving the Economy

POSTED: Monday, August 23, 2010 - 5:06pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - 4:28pm

EL PASO - Unemployment...driven by the economic downturn... has many not only pounding the pavement in search of work... but hitting the road.

"You get to see a lot of places that a lot of people don't get to see for free.  You actually get paid.  It's a wonderful lifestyle, but it's a sacrifice you have to make with your family."

Hector Solis says a big rig gig doesn't come without a price.  Solis drove a truck for five years... and now teaches the rules of the road to students enrolled in a 4-week professional driver training program.

"It's kind of rough sometimes on the body.  A lot of jerking and jumping up and down."

These students learn the ropes of an industry truckin' along despite a stalled economy... which has resulted in an abundance of applicants interested in taking the wheel.

"We've had full classes because there are a lot of people that are unemployed and it's hard to get a job out there and here we get them a job."

International Schools Admissions Director Flor Dyer says truck drivers can earn up to $40,000 when they begin their career... an incentive which helps the unemployed ignore the negatives often associated with the job.

"We see all walks of life.  We've seen people who've been at their jobs for 25 years and all of a sudden that job went away and they have to start all over again."

Eric Swanson worked as a surveyor for 30 years before becoming a trucker in training.

"Work is slow and right now I needed something to make money for my retirement years."

Solis also attributes the increased interest to the growing number of "mother truckers"... women shifting their careers into high gear.  So who makes a better driver... a man or a woman?

"The men start out faster picking it up, but women become better drivers because they pay more attention to details."


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