COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Having an additional 30 workers for snow removal would be a big help on a day like Thursday after a significant winter storm moved through the area.
But for the past year, El Paso County's highway department has struggled to fill 30 vacancies -- three times above the average number of openings.
Officials said that a good starting salary and a great benefits package have done little to motivate people to apply.
There are several reasons cited. Among them: People don't want to drive a snowplow or do other maintenance work required, or they don't want to spend the time and money to obtain a Class B commercial driver's license needed for the job.
"We charge $2,600 for a two-week certification class," said an instructor at a local truck driving school. "But that's for a Class A license. It costs more, but it also allows you to drive a wider range of vehicles, and you can always find a job because companies are always looking for drivers."
Kevin Mastin, the county's deputy public works director, said that the situation isn't unique to his county.
"I'm hearing that other counties across the country are in a similar situation," he said. "It could be that the pandemic has put people out of work or caused them to earn less money, and they can't afford the expense of getting a license."
Mastin said that anyone who wants to become a highway department employee should contact local truck driving schools to learn how to qualify for a license.
"Some schools may have tuition assistance or financial aid that can help you," he said. "And it's not just a job for men. We have women working for us also."
The situation isn't negatively affecting snow removal, Mastin said, but it does make taking time off for employees more difficult when snow is in the forecast.