Ride-sharing service Uber, which says it has already created 8,000 jobs for drivers in North Carolina, is looking to hire thousands more. To help meet that goal, the company will work with several nonprofits in the Triangle to train drivers.
On April 29, Uber reported that it aimed to have as many as 120,000 drivers across the state by 2020.
To help meet that goal, Uber on Thursday said it is partnering with Triangle nonprofits to provide skills training and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Uber also said wants to have 50,000 drivers in urban communities throughout the East Coast.
The company did not elaborate on the type of training it would provide.
So why is Uber launching the effort, which it is calling “UberUp”?
“We remain committed to driving economic opportunity and development for the cities in which we operate.” said Taylor Bennett, a Triangle area spokesperson for Uber.
In the Triangle, the company will partner with El Centro Hispano, The Institute of Economic Development for North Carolina, Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Jobs for Life.
“As Jobs for Life is committed to seeing all people in NC and beyond experience the dignity of work, we are excited about partnering with Uber in this unique initiative,” said LaToya King, director of operations for Jobs for Life, a Raleigh-based, faith-based job training organization.
Added Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, President and CEO, El Centro Hispano: “Working together with Uber presents an exciting opportunity for North Carolinians to get safe rides when they need them and earn a living on a flexible schedule across the Tar Heel state.”
Uber is an app that allows people to use their personal vehicles to make extra money as taxi drivers or request a ride through their smartphone. Uber drivers have been criticized for not being subjected to the same licensing, registration and insurance fees as taxi cab drivers, which they say allows Uber drivers to charge less and create unfair competition.
Uber says its drivers have generated over $20 million in revenues in North Carolina since the service launched last year. That income is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2020.
“Uber is a valuable resource, providing a service and job opportunities in the Triangle region,” noted Farad Ali, president and CEO for The Institute for Economic Development, in a statement about the UberUp program.
A recent report by expense management system provider Certify documented growing popularity for Uber as an alternative to taxis. Certify said that 47 percent of the ground transportation rides by its users in March were through Uber. That’s more than tripled from the 14 percent of rides that Uber had just over a year ago in January 2014. In a few cities, Uber now tops taxi rides for business travelers.
While Uber, its competing service Lyft and other “shared economy” startups such as Airbnb face the growing prospect of increased regulation from North Carolina state agencies and local governments, Uber has steadily expanded its coverage area to include 10 cities.
Since launch in North Carolina, Uber says it has provided 2 million rides.