Shortage of truck drivers for construction being felt in South Dakota

Published: Jun. 21, 2019 at 4:24 PM CDT
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The demand for construction jobs throughout Sioux Falls is continuing to grow, but a shortage of drivers to deliver construction materials could make an already bad problem, much worse.

Without those workers, it will take a long time to get a lot of jobs done.

A new scholarship program, called "Catch a Free Ride to a New Career" is hoping to be the solution this problem needs.

“You know I love the view from my office window because it changes all the time,” Mindy Regynski, who drives truck for Soukup Construction, said.

Every day, Regynski gets in her truck and hauls loads of construction materials to different sites around Sioux Falls.

“We have a full page of jobs that are always active so you could be on seven, eight, nine different jobs during the day,” Regynski said.

But, there's a shortage of construction drivers like Regynski and it's creating a lot of problems for companies.

“The worker shortage, especially with the truck drivers is getting to the point of critical,” Soukup Construction president Jim Soukup said.

That’s why Soukup and other local contractors are teaming up with Southeast Technical Institute and the South Dakota Associated General Contractors to create a scholarship program.

“Without them we can’t exist,” Soukup said. “I mean that’s the bottom line. We need to move material throughout our city to build the roads, to build the building projects, things like that.”

“I feel exhilarated that I helped build, like we worked at the Premier Center and it was so cool to see that going up and say, oh I worked on that,” Regynski said.

Regynski said changing career paths years ago to become a driver was one of the best decisions she ever made.

“I would have to list what I don’t love and that’s nothing,” Regynski said. “I mean I love everything. I love the people that I work with. I love going a meeting. You meet a lot of different people. People know my truck because I have little duct tape earrings I call it. One on each mirror.”

She said a program like "Catch a Free Ride to a New Career” is vital to the construction industry.

“If you can focus on multitasking and the challenge of driving in traffic, you'll do just fine,” Regynski said.

Soukup said one of the things that is driving the shortage is the misconception that construction work is a quick buck for summer time work.

He says it’s really a job with great benefits and pay that can become a career.

People interested in the class can complete it within two weeks to a month and the program is free.

Local contractors are footing the bill and in return the student works for them for a period of time.

People interested in the program can call Southeast Technical Institute.