NAMPA — The College of Western Idaho’s professional truck driving program was one of the original programs offered when the school first opened its doors, and now it could soon be gone.
CWI is suspending enrollment for the program as a truck driving shortage has really been felt across the nation and here in Idaho, and it could eventually impact all of us.
Since 2009, CWI has been training and grooming professional truck drivers.
“Our process here at CWI is whenever there is a lag in enrollment or downturn in enrollment in programs, we always try and evaluate 'OK what's going on? Why aren’t students coming?” said CWI spokesman Mark Browning.
CWI suspended new enrollment for its professional truck driving program while it’s under review.
“It's really quite a conundrum for us,” said Browning.
The program accepts 30 students, but over the years it's only enrolled six on average.
“When we talk to businesses in the industry and they say we need drivers, we need drivers can you bring us more, and our enrollment numbers were down in the single digits in our programs,” said Browning.
The news has been devastating for Jamie Proffitt -- both professionally and personally. He graduated from CWI's program four years ago.
“I was struggling emotionally and I went to the CWI school, and ever since that moment in my life everything has gone uphill,” said Proffitt.
Now he works for Franklin Building Supply in Boise and has hired more than two dozen CWI program graduates.
“I can pay anybody to train a driver but I can’t get what I’m getting from CWI anymore,” said Proffitt.
The reality is professional truck driving is a commitment -- a commitment that some say can be a hard one to make.
“It's nights away from home. When you're talking well the first year driver makes $70,000 to $80,000 a year, that's 20 plus nights a month away from home. It's many hours behind the wheel,” said Browning.
And for Jaime, suspended enrollment at CWI could have a wide reach.
“The impact is gonna come right back to us, all freight prices are gonna jump and it's gonna come back to the consumer,” he said.
And he says when those freight prices go up, it could eventually impact shipping prices. So those of us who buy things online could see those higher prices.
Meantime, CWI says it will review the program in the fall and they hope to have some type of decision in time for the winter semester.