Like a lot of industries these days, the trucking and transportation sector is thinking about its future workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver in the United States is 55. Who exactly is going to fill those and other driving jobs when baby boomers start turning in their ignition keys in the next few years?
Minnesota alone is expected to have 23,600 openings for truck, bus and other commercial driving jobs between 2010 and 2020, according to the cover story by Rachel Vilsack and Mark Schultz in the latest issue of Trends magazine. Demand is growing so fast that Tom Gierok, driving instructor at Southeast Technical in Winona, says he has a 100 percent placement rate for people who want to be truck drivers.
In the coming years, training professional drivers in Winona and elsewhere will be crucial for the health of the economy. Freight shipments were valued at $237 billion in Minnesota in 2010. Somebody will have to get behind the wheel to haul those materials or it could put a crimp on Minnesota’s economic growth.
One thing seems certain: For people who want to be truck drivers, there’s probably a job waiting for them out there.
LaR ohn Latimer, who heads a program at the St. Paul YWCA that trains people for trucking and other commercial driving jobs, says demand for transportation workers is high.
“Things are converging at the right time,” he says. “You have major construction projects, like the Vikings and St. Paul Saints stadiums, and high demand for workers in the North Dakota oil fields, which is drawing talent out of Minnesota.”
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