Moraine Park Technical College and Kreilkamp Trucking of Allenton have combined efforts to create the Wisconsin Regional Truck Driving Academy, a unique career opportunity to help respond to worker shortages.
Like many industries, Kreilkamp’s workforce is declining, and the worker shortages are impacting his business.
“Currently, there are more loads than trucks,” Kreilkamp said. “For every driver, over nine loads are waiting to be hauled. Delays like this cause late deliveries and contribute to many of the product shortages we are seeing today.”
The need for skilled truck drivers is also top of mind for Moraine Park.
“We are continuously reviewing industry needs for future programming,” Pete Rettler, dean of Moraine Park’s West Bend Campus, said. “Ironically, Tim came to the College to discuss his needs right when we were exploring how we could help. Our partnership formed from there.”
Kreilkamp and Rettler worked to explore the needs and how to fulfill them feasibly.
The needs revolved around the challenging process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL); access to a semi is required to take the road test. Additionally, many driving schools charge $5,000 or more upfront for the training. For individuals starting in the industry, this is a significant expense and, in many cases, an unaffordable option.
“We realize it is not easy to get into the trucking industry,” Kreilkamp said. “Many of our seasoned drivers are retiring, and I knew we would have to create a solution to begin to rebuild the workforce.”
As Kreilkamp and Moraine Park continued to work through logistics, the need to create an accessible driving school became evident.
“We needed to provide an option with no upfront costs and access to equipment,” Kreilkamp said. “I could provide the space and tools but did not have access to instructors or curriculum.”
Kreilkamp had the tools and space for classrooms and driving, and Moraine Park had educational resources. Together, the Wisconsin Regional Truck Driving Academy was created.
The Wisconsin Regional Truck Driving Academy is an eight-week program taught by two Moraine Park instructors. Cohorts will run every eight weeks, with 12-15 students in each session.
Those interested must be 18 or older, have a good driving record and be able to pass both a drug test and a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical. Individuals accepted into the program become employees of Kreilkamp. Lodging, transportation and meals are paid for during the program, and participants earn a wage while they complete the training.
“We cover all the costs to apply for and enter the program, including the DOT physical,” Kreilkamp said. “The only upfront commitment is to show up to class, the rest is taken care of.”
The Wisconsin Regional Truck Driving Academy, funded in part by a grant, is managed through Moraine Park’s Economic and Workforce Development department. After completing the program, participants will have a Moraine Park technical diploma, be employed by Kreilkamp and begin working immediately. The starting salary for a regional truck driver is approximately $61,000 per year.
“With unemployment at an all-time low in the region, creative solutions to finding and retaining talent are critical,” JoAnn Hall, Dean of Economic and Workforce Development at Moraine Park, said. “Employer-funded training programs, like this one, become a critical component to support business growth. Combining the expertise and resources of both of our organizations has been key.”
This program is all about opportunity, and for many, the ability to start or restart their career can be life-changing. Moraine Park and Kreilkamp are looking at a variety of potential partnerships that can help those with barriers to employment participate in the program.
“We are excited to witness the growth of skilled truck drivers,” Kreilkamp said. “It is a great industry to be part of; the compensation and benefits are high, scheduling is flexible and our drivers get satisfaction in knowing they are contributing to economic growth.”
The overall goal is to create 72 skilled truck drivers each year, and future goals revolve around developing further partnerships for even more growth.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for Moraine Park and our entire district,” Rettler said. “Our mission is to provide access to education, and this program does just that. As our largest partnership to date, it is sure to make a significant impact all around.”
For more information on the Wisconsin Regional Truck Driving Academy, call 262-629-5000 ext. 3028 or 3036.