Minnesota among many states facing school bus driver shortage

With the start of the school year around the corner, a local school bus company is on a hiring blitz.

The current labor market is fueling the demand for bus drivers, and some school districts across the country are calling the shortage a major issue.

"I have not quite seen this demand as high as it is," said Kathryn Forbord, Director Operations for Schmitty & Sons. "We’re turning towards our community and asking for people to help and consider getting a job driving a school bus."

Schmitty & Sons, which is employee-owned and operated, provides transportation for Lakeville, Burnsville, Eagan and Savage. Now, the company is shifting recruitment efforts into high gear by adding some incentives such as bonuses and a competitive wage.

"For our company we’re very dedicated. We’ve been working all summer to get employees in with our company."

Forbord said the wage is upwards of $20 an hour, and it could even go higher than that.

She said the pandemic and tight labor market are driving the demand for more workers.

"What we’re seeing is that people are just not returning to the workforce for a various number of reasons, and that’s why there’s so many industries being affected and not just ours," she said.

Forbord said that despite the shortage, come Sept. 8, they will have drivers behind the wheel. 

"Our industry has a job to get students to school, and the school year is upon us and the demand is real, and the demand is now….so we could certainly use the help."

Forbord said that the company doesn't have a specific target number for new employees, but their focus instead is on hiring qualified drivers.

The company will be holding a transportation fair from 4-8 p.m. on Aug. 25 at 3100 West Highway 13 in Burnsville, next to Menards.