ALABAMA (WHNT) — With the new school year in full swing, school districts across Alabama are dealing with a shortage of bus drivers. However, a program being offered by the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is looking to close that gap.

When the ACCS launched its Skills for Success program, it made way for a rapid training course for jobs in high demand, such as school bus drivers.

Since last spring, the course has been responsible for certifying over a thousand drivers statewide.

There are multiple steps required by the state for people to become bus drivers, which include theory courses, behind-the-wheel training and a state bus driver course that could take weeks to complete.

The long process coupled with the cost for the training prevented some people from taking the course. However, it is now being offered for free thanks to the state legislature providing money to fund the training.

Houston Blackwood is the workforce director at ACCS. He said the free course along with an expedited training process is helping more drivers become certified.

“If you’re a school bus driver or want to be, the first thing you have to have is a class B license and anywhere around the state that’s going to cost normally three to four thousand dollars, so not only are they saving money they’re going to work faster,” Blackwood told News 19.

Since the launch of the program, Blackwood says 2,000 people across Alabama have been certified to become school bus drivers through their training.

“We made the theory online accessible to people anywhere at any time so they can take it from their phone or their laptop wherever they are. It shortens that part of the training; it just makes it a more seamless process for the new drivers and for the school systems,” Blackwood said.

This year alone thus far, 252 people across the state have become certified through the training with 113 school districts benefitting from the course.

For those looking to get behind the wheel or know anyone looking to become a school bus driver, a form for the training course can be found here.