New Virginia community college program aims to address ongoing shortage of truck drivers

ROANOKE, Va. – The shortage of truck drivers hit an all-time high in 2021, according to the American Trucking Association. Now there’s a new scheme in the Commonwealth that aims to change that, meaning you might see fewer empty shelves at your local grocery store.

It’s painful to see bare shelves in stores, but with fewer truckers on the road, deliveries are delayed.

“There’s a lot of freight to move and the number of drivers available to move isn’t where it should be,” said Eric Cottrell, Fleetmaster’s safety supervisor.

There is a national shortage of more than 80,000 truckers, according to the American Trucking Association. If no change happens now, they predict it could double by 2030.

Fleetmaster’s senior director of risk management, Andy Kester, said he was not surprised by the trend.

“A lot of our pilots are now retiring,” Kester said. “We see that a lot here lately. We just retired a driver who had been here for 18 years.

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That’s why Fleetmaster is joining a new statewide program that aims to address the shortage.

The Virginia Trucking Association and Virginia Ready Initiative aim to train students at 23 community colleges.

Once they receive their license, they will be matched with a business to start.

“Everyone in the community benefits from driving trucks and these men and women are doing a thankless job to keep America moving forward,” said Taylor Beck, VA Ready Initiative Partnership Manager.

The goal is to recruit 100 drivers in the first 100 days of this year.

For now, they are at 20%.

Ward Best of the Virginia Trucking Association said it’s not like demand is going away anytime soon.

“We have all seen throughout the pandemic that the need for goods and services has never been met. And it continues to grow,” Best said.

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