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Grant To Entice More Drivers into Industry

July 16, 2012, 6:03 PM by Nicole Winters

Grant To Entice More Drivers into Industry

The nation could be heading towards a trucker shortage.  With fewer drivers willing to hit the road, a new grant program is hoping to change that.

The view out of Brad Haraldson's office window is one many would pay to see.

"Yeah, you get a pretty good view from up here," Haraldson said.

It's a relatively new view. Haraldson traded in his long-time construction job just for this climate controlled setting with K&J trucking.

It's a career change transportation officials would like to see others make.

"The driving profession is a graying industry. We have more people who are leaving the industry, because of retirement, redirection and things like that than coming into the industry," Lon Hird said.

Hird is the Director of Training Solutions at Southeast Tech. He says the industry, which hauls more than 90 percent of all products, needs more drivers. He's hoping new grant money will put the brakes on the decline.

"It's a tremendous opportunity; it's really a step into a career," Hird said.

A Class A license costs nearly $3,500. Depending on income level, the grant will pay the entire tuition. It's a perk to keep an important industry driving forward.

"The state of South Dakota is being very proactive in this; we see it as an issue. We want to help this in terms of economic development and workforce development," Hird said.

As Haraldson quickly discovered after getting his license upgrade at Southeast Tech, job placement is high, and the view from his new office window is priceless.

"I haven't been to Maine or Florida yet," Haraldson said.

All the more reason to keep the odometer moving.

You can find more information at Southeast Tech's website. You can also contact the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation to learn more about the grant.

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