PINCKNEYVILLE, Ill. (WSIL) – Truck drivers are always in high demand.
“Almost all of them have a job by the time they leave here,” said Les Marlow, an RLC truck driver trainer.
Truck drivers are part of a supply and demand landscape and Rend Lake College is doing its part to supply the industry with as many drivers as possible.
“If we have a student going to a job, they always call the school to see if we have another student like them,” Marlow said.
Rend Lake College offers truck driver training at various locations – including the main campus in Ina as well as the Murphy-Wall Campus in Pinckneyville where three new students are looking to become the next truck drivers to hit the highway.
Ronald Kincaid, a student driving a truck, said: “Some people don’t know how we can drive 11 hours a day, but if you like it and want to see the country and something different all the time, this is a good way to go.”
Thanks to the DRA grant, RLC will be able to expand its program in Perry County.
“There is a high demand in this area for truck driver training,” said RLC Vice President of Education and Student Affairs Lori Ragland.
Rend Lake College will use the $185,000 it received from the Delta Regional Authority to improve those facilities.
“If we didn’t have the funding, we wouldn’t be able to expand our training and keep up with the technology out there,” Ragland said. “By receiving these grant funds, we are able to strengthen the community. We can grow the workforce.”
Kincaid decided to change careers, and initially wasn’t sure he could make it through the program.
“The first day, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it,” Kincaid said.
However, he credits the small class size and hands-on experience with the teacher for helping him over the past few weeks.
“We have a great coach individually,” Kincaid said.
Jacob Quaker is a 22-year-old from Mount Vernon. He’s more interested in repairing big rigs but says learning how to operate one will help him better understand what a driver is going through, if the time comes he needs a mechanic.
“There’s been a lot going on over the last couple of weeks,” Quaker said. “I learned a lot more than I thought I would learn. It’s a different perspective than driving a pickup truck or a car.”
Marlowe has been a teacher since the Pinckneyville campus opened in 20-19 and says the school takes students from those who are just starting out trying to figure out what they want to do to new retirees who aren’t quite ready to stop working.
“It’s probably just as diverse as the people,” Marlowe said. “Some people just want to sit in a truck and be left alone. They’ve been working their whole lives under high pressure while others are just trying to make a living for their families.”