KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The American Trucking Association's latest estimate shows the truck driver shortage could near 160,000 by 2030.
This figure is the difference between the number of drivers currently in the market and the optimal number of drivers based on freight demand, per ATA.
To address the shortage, Made Men, Zeta Driving School and KC Scholars are teaming up.
KC Scholars provides scholarships toward a number of educational and career pathways, such as truck driving.
Michelle Rihard and Misty Hankins have been attending Zeta Driving School for a few weeks, working on obtaining their commercial driver's licenses.
The two women received scholarships through KC Scholars' new program, Great Jobs KC.
"Our first step with our scholars with Great Jobs KC is really for them to experience: Who am I? And who do I want to be?" said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, KC Scholars' executive vice president. "To qualify for that, you need to be over 17, making less than $45,000 a year, and if you're making less than $45,000 and you live within our six counties, you qualify."
Made Men is a Kansas City, Kansas-based nonprofit which provides GED training, scholarships and connects students with college and career opportunities.
"What we’re trying to do is not try to recreate things that already exist but connect with great programs in the community, and Made Men is one of those," Besendorfer said. "We’re partnering with them — if they come to us and they need a GED or if they come to Made Men and they get their GED, then they can refer them to us. They referred 12 individuals to us already who are on their way to now getting training. That’s going to lead to jobs paying $45,000 or more, leading to economic stability."
Economic stability is something KCK Mayor Tyrone Garner wants to continue in the Wyandotte County area.
"The overall goal is to keep people anchored right here in Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, which adds to more resilience because now you have people working, such as Misty and Michelle, that can operate and work at a livable wage," Garner said.
Both Hankins and Rihard say they're excited to earn more while proving to themselves they can accomplish such a task.
"Showing myself that I can do something that I didn’t think was possible, that I don’t have to fit a certain box that other people have put me in — but if I set my mind to it, I can," Hankins said.
For Rihard, the opportunity has been her "target the whole time."
"I want to see the country. I want to experience life in a different way, and this is going to make that happen," she said.
Made Men will host a CDL Summit on June 23 at Memorial Hall. It'll be a full day of CDL training and education on how to obtain a CDL. Scholarships will also be handed out.
To learn more and/or to attend, click HERE.