MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Over the past two months, Alabama trucking industry experts say the state has seen a spike in hiring, but it might not be who you’d expect.

Alabama Trucking Association President Mark Colson says they’ve seen an uptick in older drivers getting behind the wheel.

“We’re still dealing with record high inflation and record high gas prices for the most part. Those have driven a lot of people back into the industry who may have retired, 55 and up. That’s short-term. Long-term we know we have some really serious challenges,” Colson said.

Colson says long-term, it’s important the state invests in encouraging younger people to consider the career, because as older drivers retire, shortages will resurface, especially in an industry that already skews older.

He says right now there are still about 3,000 to 5,000 openings in Alabama and 80,000 nationally.

“These are the heroes of the highway. They serve their state, they serve their community. Those are the individuals we are hopefully attracting to these good paying jobs that are sustainable careers, too,” Colson said.

Roderick Rudolph is a CDL training instructor in Montgomery. He says he’s seen more people wanting to get their licenses.

“It’s been increasing here lately. I guess it’s being advertised everywhere that there’s a shortage of truck drivers so a lot of people want to get into that,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph says some students were drawn to the independence of the job and the opportunities available. He says companies are coming to recruit next week.  

“We have Wiley Sanders coming Monday, I think Averitt, another companies try to come in and recruit them before they get out of the class,” Rudolph said.

Rudolph says his 10 students will be taking their CDL test in the next few weeks, and future classes are filling up fast.

The American Trucking Association estimates nationally by 2030, there will be a shortage of about 160,000 drivers as the current workforce retires.