Waverly students are introduced to careers in trucking

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 8:44 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of truck drivers in the industry has declined nationwide.

According to the American Trucking Association, the driver shortage could reach more than 80,000 drivers by the end of 2021. The association predicts the number could drop to more than 160,000 by 2030.

To fix that, local truckers have started to introduce kids to the industry earlier.

On Tuesday, Waverly Middle School students were able to get a behind the scenes look of working in the industry.

The Nebraska Trucking Association brought a fleet of semi trucks to the school to show more than 500 kids what a career in trucking is really like.

“Over a couple of generations we have de-emphasized trade vocations and professions,” said Kent Grisham, president of the Nebraska Trucking Association. “We are trying to correct that when it comes to trucking careers both for professional drivers and technicians.”

Grisham said the association is introducing kids to the industry and its benefits at a younger age to change their perspective about the profession.

He said being a truck driver can be a rewarding career with little to no student debt, potential for a six-figure income and benefits.

“The training programs take a matter of weeks and months and not years,” Grisham said.

He said the goal is to change kids perspective on what a career on the road is like.

“It’s really exposing them to the inside of a truck which is the workspace that they might occupy,” Grisham said.

The trucking association partnered with the University of Nebraska for a research study on high school students and the appeal of a trucking career.

Grisham said the study proved most did not even consider working in the industry, but hopes an event like Tuesday’s at a middle school will help change that.

“What we hope is that we planted a seed, and that when we revisit them later on in high school, they’ll say ‘you know I remember looking at that truck and crawling in, and how surprised I was by how cool they are,’” Grisham said.

Ed Garrett, a driver for Crete Carrier, has been driving for the corporation for 32 years.

Garrett said he hopes more kids become interested in the industry as it has been a beneficial job for him.

“It’s a wonderful career,” Garrett said. “You go to truck driving school, it’s a great career and it’s here to stay and it’s making money. You can make good money driving trucks on the road.”

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