New trucking program gives the industry hope to get younger

With the entire country nearly 80,000 truck drivers short, the industry is looking for ways to bring in the younger generation, and they may have found a potential answer.


The ‘Safe Driver Apprenticeship Program’ allows for people ages 18-20 to be able to work, and drive out of state, something they wouldn’t have been able to do until they are 21.


The program is very selective as only 15 carriers are able to participate, and one of those is Karl’s Transport in Antigo because of the work culture and safety ratings.


Zach Callewaert is the only successful apprentice so far in the country out of 3,000. He started working for Karl’s when he was 18 and once he heard about the new program he knew he had an in to hit the roads years earlier than he would’ve.


“Ever since I turned 16, I knew I wanted to be a truck driver, it’s just about age,” said Callewaert. “Once they told me at 18 I could go (drive), I was like, ‘I’m all in.'”


Callewaert was able to start his dream early, and despite his age, he proved himself that he could do anything behind the wheel.


“Knowing I can handle a big truck,” said Callewaert. “Knowing I can back up a 53-foot trailer, and I can make these city turns.”


Karl’s hopes that because of the program, it’ll give them a boost to bring in young drivers and get them in the cab to travel the country.


“That’s the biggest thing is to be able to go see Oklahoma, go see Florida, go see anywhere really,” said Callewaert.


Karl’s hopes to build off this momentum as they’ve held job fairs at schools to see who’s interested and hopes to do demos both at their facility and other schools.


“We’re inviting high schools here, and we’re also going to be taking our program out on the road also to area high schools that are interested,” said Tim Kordula, an instructor at Karl’s CDL Training.


It’s not just trucking. By getting into this program, it can also open up other avenues with large vehicles.


“Within 10 years of doing this, they could branch out into CDL training, safety, and dispatching,” said Kordula. “There’s just so many different career opportunities.”


Karl’s says that first year drivers have the ability to earn up to $55,000 with benefits, and they’re hoping to bring in new drivers to pave the way of the new generation of truck drivers.


Source:  WOAW – Channel 9