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Dane Co. says ‘win-win’ program trains truck drivers and fills demand

A pipeline program leading to trucking jobs in Dane County is growing.
Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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DANE CO., Wis. (WMTV) - A pipeline program leading to trucking jobs in Dane County is growing. The Urban League of Greater Madison, which offers an array of free job training and coaching services, is running a hands-on program that helps people earn a commercial driver’s license.

Terry Birts, who works in workforce development at the Urban League, said the nonprofit has offered this free program for the last five years in partnership with the Dane County Highway and Transportation Department and the Latino Academy for Workforce Development.

“A lot of time the avenues aren’t open. You’re forced to go to a school where maybe it’s a little out of your price range because the training isn’t cheap in a lot of places,” Birts said. “But by coming to us, we’re working with you. We have the partnerships. We have instructors, and we can make it more attainable for you.”

He said up to 80 people have graduated from the program, including Craig Weatherby. He was part of the first class of trainees and is now an employee with the county. Among his roles, he drives county trucks, including snow plows and dump trucks.

“It’s something I’ve been wanting to do my whole life,” he said. He recalled ride-alongs in trucks as well as Tonka toy trucks from his childhood.

“It’s a win-win. We get workers, [and] they get the skills that they need in order to be able to obtain a CDL,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.

Parisi said the skilled drivers are answers to a need in the economy. He called it a win-win deal with more people in the workforce, and the students gaining the skills and experience needed to get a CDL.

Weatherby said five of his coworkers in the highway department were also trained in the pipeline program.

According to Birts, the Urban League is now planning to develop another hands-on academy this summer, towards careers in solar energy.

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