ANKENY, IOWA — Des Moines Area Community College is launching another new recruiting effort to attract students to their truck-driving courses in hopes of filling thousands of vacancies for truck drivers in Iowa and even more across the country.

For Des Moines Area Community College President Rob Denson, this was a trip back to the past. He was being a truck driver for a day.

“Today’s trip I’ll actually be taking a load of Feed to Kent Waterloo facility,” said Denson. “This is a special meeting for me, 55 years ago, I used to haul Kent feed out of here, my first job was working for the Homestead Feedmill in Homestead Iowa.” 

On this day Denson borrowed a truck to pick up Governor Kim Reynolds. They made the trip to the Kent Feeds plant in Altoona, with the Governor riding shotgun.  A group of business leaders met there to talk about trying to find more drivers. Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation, told the group his company needs to hire hundreds of drivers.  He said it’s tough when you have more business, than you do drivers.

“You do your best, you work with your customer partners to determine how their supply chain would adjust when we cannot move the freight that they would otherwise want to move,” said McLean, “Professional truck driving is one that people don’t consider as often, and if they actually look at the low cost to earn the credential, and the significant wages and salaries that can be earned by professional truck drivers its something folks really out to consider.”

At DMACC, Denson said they are doing what they can at DMACC. They’ve hired another instructor to train truck drivers, and may possibly add a night class in truck driving.

“More and more companies went to automatics (transmission) now our entire fleet that we train on are automatics,” said Denson. “We were able to reduce the length of training from five weeks to three weeks, and reduce the cost by $500.” 

Denson said driving gave him a good start earning money, as he headed to college.

“You start out driving a truck, you could end up anywhere,” said Denson. He added that some new drivers can earn around $70,000 a year, but it takes a lot of hard work.

The Iowa Workforce Development website this week is showing over 700 openings, for truck drivers.