Beebe reintroduces truck driver training program for displaced workers

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - About a month ago, Governor Mike Beebe reintroduced a pilot program to train displaced workers and other eligible Arkansans to become truck drivers.

The ultimate goal is to fill 300 jobs with Arkansas trucking companies. Bentley Wallace the Director of the transportation program at ASU Newport says after an 18 month slump the hiring has begun again.

Wallace, "There's a demand for drivers and good companies are hiring drivers straight out of school again." While the previous demand has been for jobs in the oil-shale areas now companies are looking for over-the-road drivers.

If an applicant passes the application process and graduates from the ASU 4 week program they will have a guaranteed job with a participating employer and must remain with them for at least a year. Beginning wages can start anywhere from 35-40 Thousand a year.

Michael Head was driving one of the two driving simulators at the campus. Head is currently enrolled and will finish up in about a week. Head said you get out of the program what you put in.

Head, "It All depends if you dedicated to it or not. You dedicated to it goes pretty smoothly."

They're hopeful 300 candidates will go through this program. Wallace says they do have many early applications.

Wallace, "We still have room for more, we need more and we want more. It will take a number of months for us to find all of the candidates to go through the program."

The Arkansas Trucking Association in Little Rock is handling the application process. The first requirement is that you be 21 years of age and be a resident of Arkansas. You must be actively seeking a job and be registered with the Arkansas Workforce Center. there are many other requirements all of which can be found at the website,

Driver instructor Kyle Story said the state initiative to provide 300 grants, is a great thing.

Story, "To let people come and train here for free..My gosh it's a big plus because the demand is definitely back again for truck drivers."

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