COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Amid a shortage of school bus drivers and technicians, the state Department of Education has launched a new campaign to help fill open jobs.

It’s called ‘Step Up SC‘. South Carolina Department of Education Transportation Director Mike Bullman said they had two calls in mind when they launched the campaign.

First, to raise awareness about the need for school bus drivers and technicians ahead of the start of the school year. They also wanted to create a one-stop shop where people can find these jobs easily.

Bullman said it’s important for school districts to try to fill as many as these jobs as possible now. “The bus driver is often times the first person the students sees every day and the last person they see in the afternoon,” he said.

According to Bullman, they recently surveyed school districts across the state and found they’re short about 15% of their bus drivers and technicians. He said during a normal year, it’s usually anywhere between 7-10%.

Half of the students who attend public schools rely on school transportation to get to class Bullman said. “Without that yellow bus pulling up every day many students would struggle with getting to school. We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can do to help fill these very important positions.”

The state Department of Education says school districts have assured them all bus routes will be run amid the shortage.

Bullman encourages anyone who is interested to reach out to your local school district or a nearby one. “Either one of these positions would be a rewarding career, to be able to give back to the community and the students.”

This year, state lawmakers raised school bus driver salary by 8%, raising the base starting pay to $9.12 an hour. Bullman said the average is about $14 statewide.

All training to become a bus driver or technician is provided by the Department of Education.

If you’re interested in becoming a school bus driver or technician you can browse current openings by clicking or tapping here.