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COLUMBIA, SC — When the pandemic caused supply chain issues, it shined a light on the shortages of truck drivers nationwide. Now, Eau Claire High School is making sure their students are prepared to fill the gap with help from some new technology.

"Regardless of the state of the economy, there’s constant demand for truck services,” said Rick Todd with the South Carolina Trucking Association.

Eau Claire High School has one of only six high school CDL training programs nationwide, where students get hands-on experience through technology. It started back in August 2018 thanks to a partnership between Richland One and the South Carolina Trucking Association.

“What they’re able to do is get their CLP which is a Commercial Learner’s Permit. We are not able to put them physically on the road for insurance purposes, but they’re able to have all the theory knowledge and some skills by the time they leave,” said Augustin Wigfall, the CDL Instructor at Eau Claire High School.

“It’s well within their reach and I think the earlier they get started making that decision, the better off they’re going to be,” said Todd.

Now, they’ve got state of the art technology to help them even more - a truck driving simulator. Teachers said it’s what companies train drivers on.

“They’ll now have a leg up when they’re going into the companies,” said Wigfall.

“Something to help you achieve your goals and dreams,” said Nazier Hampton, a student taking the class.

The program doesn’t just help students learn, it helps them take their skills beyond the classroom.

“I’m able to partner up with different companies and get them an early start in their career,” said Wigfall.

Students said that gives them hope.

“I want to do something with my future further and to be a role model for my nieces and nephews,” said Hampton.

This year the class has 45 students in the program.

Story courtesy of Brittany Breeding, WACH FOX 57