Hawaiian trucking schools have a waitlist for the first time ever, owners say

At least one school is already booked through next year.

Trucking schools in Hawaii are struggling to keep up with demand for their training services, school owners say. 

It all started when the pandemic hit and employees of the hospitality industry, a major source of the state’s overall income, were laid off due to COVID-19 and reduced travel. 

“As soon as the pandemic hit there was a waiting list,” said Richard Hoapili, owner of Professional Driving academy in Honolulu. 

“A lot of people from hospitality trying to switch over, just because the whole pandemic thing, a lot of hotels shutting down and they have to find a way to pay their bills.”  

Luckily, because of an increase in online ordering as a result of the pandemic, companies like UPS and even the United States Postal service are looking to hire truck drivers and delivery drivers to meet increased shipping demand, but trucking school just can’t train new drivers fast enough. 

“We’ve seen an increase in job applicants during the pandemic, both in terms of total numbers as well as the diversity in prior work experience of potential employees,” wrote the USPS in a statement. “We welcome applicants who are seeking the stability and reward of being an essential employee that the U.S. Postal Service provides. The Postal Service currently has job openings for mail carrier positions on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Interested applicants are invited to apply at https://about.usps.com/careers.”

“I just had a couple of companies call me yesterday and they are still looking for drivers,” Hoapili said. “Some other companies, they are sending their warehouse guys to us to get their license. They need more drivers to be able to deliver all that mail, everybody is doing the online ordering.”   

Hoapili says his classes are already fully booked through 2022, and demand for his services is remaining steady.