GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - There are anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 job openings nationwide in the trucking industry -- and that's probably a very conservative estimate. While there are plenty of job opportunities, there aren't enough people to fill them.
A student takes the commercial truck driving course at Fox Valley Technical College (WBAY photo)
The truck industry is booming.
According to Rob Behnke, chair of the truck driving program at Fox Valley Technical College, "The job opportunities are incredible. Right now our enrollments are down, and I think one of the reasons for that is we're competing with other industries."
And that's why FVTC revamped its truck driving program.
What used to be a 10-week course can now be completed in only eight. The idea is to get students through the program, employed and filling the empty seats behind the wheel as soon as possible.
"In the 8 weeks, we're going to have some specific classroom. Some of the classroom will be available online for the students so we can be a little bit more efficient that way. And then also, we're more specific and direct with the items they do on the range, some backing exercises, and also out on the road we'll hone in on some very specific skill sets, skill requirements and work with the students a little bit more efficiently," adds Behnke.
For students like Shelly Voight, who is one week from completing the FVTC truck driving program, the opportunities are endless and the pay is good, too.
She says the program has not only prepared her for the road but it's also opened her eyes to the multitude of opportunities that aren't a traditional truck driving career.
Voight says, "Just about each and every one of us have decided there is the over-the-road option, but why do the over-the-road when you could find jobs locally that pay just as well?"
And with the new program at Fox Valley Tech, which would put about 200 new drivers into the field each year, the college will help to narrow the gap on the need for drivers.