Local program fights truck driver shortage

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ---- "We're just one step in trying to get people prepared to go into that work," said Dave Willis, Coordinator Pro Tem.

Facing a decline in new truck drivers, Rock Valley College's training program gives potential conductors the skills they need to join a dwindling force.

"There's something on a 60,000 driver shortage in the country right now and companies are really scrambling to try to fill that void, and we're part of that by teaching people how to drive so that they can qualify for it," said Stark.

For instructor Larry Stark, working on an individual level with the drivers gives him a new sense of purpose after his years on the highway.

"I drove over the road. The last company I worked for, I did all 48 states and 5 provinces in Canada in the first three years with them," said Stark.
An unexpected change in career put the long-time techie on a completely different path...

"I spent 35 years in computers and IBM laid me off in 2002, and I opened up the Chicago Tribune and there were 5 pages of drivers wanted, so I said, well, I think I can do that. So I went and got my license, and now I teach, I've been here for about 8 years now," said Stark.

....which he says makes it all worthwhile.

"Being able to watch these folks get their license and the smile on their face and know you had something to do with that is the reward," said Stark.