Truck drivers needed in Central Valley with busy season nearing

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The number of people training to drive big rigs has picked up at Advanced Career Institute in Fresno.

Four weeks of training are needed to get a new truck driver out on the road.

Everett Yockey says the industry needs 80,000 drivers to move products.

The pandemic led to a reduction in new truck drivers.

"From fewer students coming to school to the DMV closing and not allowing as many students to get through there, it's created a huge backlog of people who needed that," Yockey said.

The pandemic also created a need for more shipping with so many people ordering online.

But here in the Valley, fruits and vegetables represent a huge part of the cargo which will soon need to be shipped.

"The main part of the harvest season, we're just 4-6 weeks away from it really hitting heavy," says Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen. "It definitely becomes a concern to us when you start talking about the ability for us to get the products to where they need to go."

Yockey fields calls from ag companies every day.

"They sound concerned," Yockey said.

Jacobsen says the ag industry for years has tried to help recruit prospective truck drivers because they play a crucial role in getting food to your table.

"These are well-paying jobs," he said. "These are steady jobs. The ability to work year-round most of the time."

Yockey expects to send 125 more grads into the job market in May.
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