MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Level up. It’s defined by the urban dictionary as, “making a move in life or career for the better.” At FOX13 we are committed to showcasing people doing exactly that.
We want to see all of the Mid-South ‘level up.’
We meet two men who have made it their mission to get people out of poverty and into good-paying jobs.
Ray Patton drives nearly 2 hours a day to train men and women to drive big trucks, so they can qualify for their commercial driver’s license.
FOX13’s Mearl Purvis asked Patton is it worth driving 100 miles every day. He responded, “Every single day. It’s worth every one of them.”
Olympic Career Training (OCT), a South Memphis company offers a 4-week commercial driver’s license course for $4,000 – which is unaffordable for many people.
Students who find a way to pay, like Claude Phillips, an ex-felon who earned his CDL license, are immediately hired in a career that pays about $51,000.
Men and women training inside OTC also want to ‘level up’ by training to be forklift operators.
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Trey Carter is the owner of OTC, he told us, "The majority of people who come to our school are individuals who are unemployed [or] underemployed and making less than $15 dollars an hour."
Many are constantly striving for a better life. “They're currently homeless living out of their cars… They've currently been unemployed for over a year,” Carter said.
Memphis is considered the logistics hub of America where runway, road, rail, and river merge. For the chamber of commerce, that spells jobs.
However, when it comes to forklift operators, the hub is hamstrung. There are more jobs than people trained to fill the slots.
The forklift operator class at OTC is $99 dollars and no charge for SNAP benefit recipients.
FOX13's research shows forklift operator jobs pay from $15 to $25 dollars an hour - a solid living wage.
Once training is over, you can work for companies like Nike and Electrolux in Memphis.
Carter goes out looking for forklift candidates. People who want to work hard, are willing to take instructions, and stick to a task.
He learned to respect those attributes from his dad, the late Pat Carter, a prominent Memphis business owner, and grassroots philanthropist. He learned that and to always give back.
“I love Memphis, and for every scar or problem that people say Memphis has, I'm going to do what I can and roll up my sleeve and try and eradicate some of those issues,” Carter explained.
Amazon is said to be developing a 4-million square foot warehouse in the Raleigh neighborhood of North Memphis. If that happens, the already highly in demand forklift operators will be among the ten most immediate jobs to be filled.
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