Instructors say trucker shortage began before pandemic

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The pandemic seems to have led to a permanent busy season for e-commerce, with more shipments going out for delivery but not enough drivers to move the freight.

We’ve been looking into this ‘semi-truck shortage’ and local schools say this has been a problem for a while.

“A lot of truck drivers are retiring. And those older truck drivers have to be replaced,” said Joe Grossman, the Lead Instructor at 160 Driving Academy.

Grossman says there has been a trucker shortage for years and the rise of e-commerce during the pandemic is only increasing the demand for new drivers.

“There are more and more things being shipped through Amazon and online retailers,” said Grossman. “Everything that you can think of travels by truck across our country.”

You need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be hired by a trucking company. Some of those working towards their CDL with Grossman are students at Highland Community College.

“They can have a job before they leave our program. Because there are trucking companies that are hiring students before they graduate in anticipation that they’ll receive their Class A and continue with a career,” he added.

Rock Valley College also has a truck driver training program. Administrator Bernie Luecke says upwards of 80 students receive their CDL every year through the five-week class.

“It’s a great way to start a career, is to become a truck driver,” said Luecke. “I’ve heard starting wages everywhere from $20 an hour all the way up to $26 an hour.”

Luecke says besides offering job security, a start as a truck driver could also lead to jobs in supply chain management, logistics, or sales.

“If you’ve got your CDL and you understand how to drive a truck, all of those other occupations within the trucking industry are going to come easier and you’re going to be that much more successful,” said Luecke.

Luecke says Rock Valley College recently installed a new driving simulator to help students practice before they ever hit the road.

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