SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Curt Robinson runs the truck driver training program at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, and right now, business is booming.
“Every student that’s went through our program has been offered a job before they ever leave,” Robinson said.
The increase in enrollment over the last year is coinciding with a decrease in truckers on the road.
Many older truckers retired during the pandemic. Over 90 percent of trucking companies are looking for more drivers, and Robinson’s classes aren’t enough to fill the gaps.
“We have a lot of drivers who came into this industry in the 90s and they are all retiring now,” Matt Hart with the Illinois Trucking Association said. “And we don’t have a whole lot of younger folks that are wanting to get into this industry to drive a truck and be gone.”
The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association said that shortage is causing a different kind of shortage at gas stations.
“From the terminal to the pump, that last step, that’s all truck. And that is a huge factor, obviously, that goes into getting the product to the consumer,” Josh Sharp with the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association said.
The shortage of drivers won’t result in any gas stations around central Illinois running out of gas. That could be a problem for vacation hotspots through the summer. In Illinois, it has already led to higher gas prices.
“You’ve had more people get vaccinated and more people want to go somewhere, the summer hotel bookings, i think are up something like 60% over where they were last year, it’s going to ultimately lead i think, to higher prices at the pump,” Sharp said.
And while schools like Robinson’s are churning out new drivers every couple of months, it’s still not enough.
“The demand is just so high. And most of them will have multiple job offers,” Robinson said.