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Shawnee Community College expands truck driving program

Shawnee Community College is launching a new plan to get more licensed truck drivers on the road.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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ULLIN, Ill. (KFVS) - A new plan to get more licensed truck drivers on the road is taking off in southern Illinois.

The industry faced a record driver shortage last year.

Now, one local community college hopes a new expansion can help the region.

“There’s really no better time for somebody to get a CDL than right now,” Kelly Jennings said.

Kelly Jennings is the truck driving coordinator at Shawnee Community College. He said the need for truck drivers is at an all-time high and he sees lots of students interested in becoming one.

“There’s so many people calling everyday, myself and my friend Greg Sheppard, he’s the advisor for the class and we’re taking calls everyday between the two of us its hard for us to keep up,” Jennings said.

That’s why he believes expanding Shawnee’s truck driving program in Metropolis will be a big success.

“My goal is to make it the best truck driving program in the three state area,” he said.

Jennings said about 50 students graduate from the program every year and he hopes to double that number with this expansion.

“We’re also hoping to expand eventually to Cairo too,” he said.

The center in Metropolis will have a training range very similar to the one at the main campus, in addition to a new classroom and truck simulator.

“There’s situations that I can’t put them in that would harm them or get them hurt or worse but with the simulator they can wreck 20 times and still be okay, it might hurt their pride, but they’ll be alright,” he said.

Zach Akins explained why he wants to be a truck driver.

“Just being able to provide for a family, being financially stable and I know with the economy as it is right now, truck driving is the best way to do that,” Akins said.

“We’re trying to fill a need that our community needs and that’s what community colleges do,” Jennings said.

On May 24, officials from the college and community will break ground at the new Metropolis Expansion Center.

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