SOUTHERN COLORADO – It’s a nationwide problem: a major shortage in the trucking industry.
In the Pikes Peak region alone there’s a few thousand open positions. On the plus side – it’s creating some great opportunities for current workers.
Local truck drivers shared with News 5 while it can be a hard business, it’s actually pretty rewarding. Truck drivers today are being offered much higher pay versus 10 years ago. It’s good news for them, but if the shortage continues it could mean trouble for the rest of us.
The trucking industry is something we all depend on whether we know it or not. Drivers transport every day items like food, equipment, toys, and clothes to businesses nationwide. However, the manpower to get these things to American consumers is changing.
“Recently we’re getting more and more of a shortage,” said Mark Haefner. He’s the director of training at the United States Truck Driving School in Fountain. He’s been in the industry for about 30 years and knows it well.
“A lot of the old time drivers are getting off the road and…it’s time to retire.”
Traci Marques, executive director and CEO of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, is also tracking this issue.
“Right now in our region there’s over 2,500 open positions in the transportation industry for truck drivers.”
She said it’s a tough job and that the demands can include sitting and driving for “eight hours, 10 hours in a truck vehicle.”
This kind of work isn’t for everyone.
Haefner said, “That also leads to the shortage of people wanting to be truck drivers.”
If this trend continues it could be costly for all of us.
Haefner said, “Might make things even more expensive…in the long run it could actually put a lot of us at a standstill…without the freight moving…if you think about the shelves on the store – could be empty.”
It’s why people like Paul Craig are so essential. He’s training to be a truck driver.
Craig said, “I get to go across the country if I so choose or I could stay and do local deliveries.”
With the shortage wages are increasing, allowing Craig to rake in a big chunk of change. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center said in 2008 that the total earnings for some trucking positions was about $49,000. Currently, it’s over $71,000.
Craig said, “That’s a lot more than I made in my past jobs.”
Another industry that’s struggling is construction. Data from LMI Gateway shows there’s currently 166 job openings in Colorado Springs.
Dan Weber, executive vice president for Colarelli Construction, said, “We’re experiencing a significant shortage with skilled workers, laborers, office personnel, project managers, superintendents.”
It’s bad news for those wanting to build a house.
Weber said, “The price continues to increase to get the limited resources that are available.”
However, it’s another great opportunity for those wanting to make a decent living.
“Some of these guys, they’re in six figures.”
So before you write off jobs like these consider the huge benefits you could be reaping and the benefits you could be contributing to society.
If you’re interested in joining the trucking industry it only takes three weeks to go through the school in Fountain.