A truck driver training program in Newport is back in gear.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, in partnership with Arkansas State University–Newport and the Arkansas Trucking Association, says it will resume the Truck Driver Training Pilot Initiative.
The program covers tuition and related training expenses if an applicant completes a four-week training course at the Commercial Driver Training Institute at ASU-Newport and remains on the job for at least one year.
The program originally started in September 2008, but stalled in November 2009 due to the recession and the economic downturn. The transportation industry is now experiencing a shortage of qualified truck drivers, which necessitated the resumption of the program, according to a DWS release.
Under the program’s resurrection, four Arkansas firms with extensive truck fleets — Maverick USA, Stallion Transportation Group, Tyson Foods and Willis Shaw Express — say they expect to hire up to 300 graduates from the training during the first year. Wages for each hire are expected to exceed $35,000 annually.
“The state of Arkansas is bringing back an important program to train people who are willing to work for a rewarding career as a professional truck driver,” Gov. Mike Beebe (D) said. “Companies tell us that the demand for truck drivers is there, and we want to find Arkansans to fill those jobs.”
"We are very excited about the truck driver training program re-starting," said Shannon Newton, Vice-president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. "As you know, our industry employs about 74,000 Arkansans, and we areproud to be in a position to hire even more. While so many industries are still experiencing layoffs, the trucking industry is creating jobs."
Information about how to apply for the program is available at each workforce service center throughout the state and at www.truckingarkansas.com.