NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The need for commercial truck drivers remains critical nationwide. Leaders are now launching a new initiative to address the shortage being felt in the Volunteer State.

The American Trucking Association reported that the trucking industry faces a shortage of 78,000 drivers at current vacancies, which is the second-largest number on record.

According to the Tennessee Board of Regents, the demand for CDL positions in the state was expected to increase nearly 20% between now and 2030.

“On the Tennessee Department of Labor Workforce Development’s website, they had listed about 1100 open CDL driver jobs in the state of Tennessee, but that’s just from the companies who chose to post on the state website. Not all do that,” said TBR Center for Workforce Development Executive Director Jeff Sisk. “I’m sure the number is at least double that in the state of Tennessee — at least a couple thousand CDL jobs right now.”

State officials launched a new website called to spread the word and educate potential candidates. It’s part of a statewide plan to expand CDL training and make it more accessible through 14 of the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, known as TCATs.

“The state of Tennessee has made significant investments to help overcome this workforce issue,” said Sisk. “Truckers move about 70% of the goods in the US economy but trucks represent only 4% of the vehicles on the road. This gives you kind of insight into how impactful that occupation is. You can have a powerhouse manufacturing sector in your state, but if you don’t have the right truck drivers to deliver and drop off your product, you’re crippled and you can’t get it out.”

Sisk explained that one factor for the truck driver shortage is that any occupation that requires licensure to work is automatically going to have a barrier. Nurses are another example of that. Another factor is the age requirement for interstate trucking across state lines being 21 years old.

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“This year, with the partnership of the General Assembly, we are proud to launch the Trucking Tennessee campaign to strengthen our trucking workforce and continue to support this important industry,” stated Governor Bill Lee in a press release. “TCATs across our state are now making it easier than ever for drivers to become certified through programs like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, drivers can be certified at little or no cost in as little as six weeks.”

To learn more about the TCAT trucking programs, click here.