BANGOR, Maine — Maine has been facing a shortage of truck drivers for the past couple years. Due in part to pandemic challenges, this has become an even greater problem.
To steer the state away from problems down the road, the trucking industry is investing in ways to attract new employees and make it easier for them to apply.
"Nationally, the truck driver shortage is standing at around eighty thousand right now, and that's expected to double in the next eight years," Maine Motor Transport Association President Brian Parke said.
To appeal to a younger audience, MMTA launched their "Go Your Way" Campaign last year alongside a zero-interest loan program for up to $7,000 to pay for commercial driver's license training.
Parke said the campaign looks to create a conversation with a younger generation to consider trucking as a long-term career.
Early indications are: the campaign is working.
"They've seen a 57% increase in their training enrollments year over year, which has translated into 200 students, and additional students year over year," Parke said. "We see that as both, the campaign and the loan program, as significant impacts."
Inside the classroom, driving students are starting to wrap up their training from a free summer course, taught by Northern Maine Community College and brought down to Eastern Maine Community College.
"It's good to see them come here and get a job. A lot of them are hired even before they get out of the class," driving instructor Dennis Dyer said.
Dyer said plans are in motion to continue the course in other parts of the state in the near future.
In a combined effort, industry workers hope to see steady change in the coming years, but know they are not in the clear anytime soon.
"They're not golden solutions that are going to provide relief tomorrow, but we had to start someplace and we had to do something," Parke said.