A semi-serious battle, Western Dakota Tech versus truck driver shortage

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -The United States is currently seeing a nation wide truck driver shortage. Western Dakota Tech offers a four to six week program that teaches students what it takes to be a truck driver.

Jay Banick, the Trucking program Director at Western Tech, says students come from a range of backgrounds for the opportunity to fill the currently lacking long haul force

“They’re here to learn and get going on a new career. Whether they’re starting a career or just halfway through. They might have retired. Classes can range anywhere from 19 to 70 years old. It just fits everybody,” says Banick. “We work them into the driving portion. We do have a simulator in our program. That gets them started.”

The simulator is just like the real thing, and goes to show that practice makes perfect.

In the long run, students like Brian Coppes are eager and confident that all of the practice to pay off.

“So, I took some time to decide what I wanted to do in this stage of my life. One of the big things that I would encourage anybody to do at this point is go into the trades. It doesn’t matter if it’s electric, plumbing, whatever or construction,” says Coppes, “those people are making bank money, because for whatever reason there’s a shortage.”

The shortage is being filled by interested souls with a curiosity born in the open road. Instructors like Jay want to share that. He cruised the highways for more than 30 years, and even met his wife during a pitstop at a grocery store.

“I love being on my own,” says Banick, “and I became very good friends with everybody that I made deliveries to, and just the overall freedom of it.”

The big bucks are well earned by the worthy students of Western Dakota Tech.

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