Over-the-road and onto a new chapter, Rodney finds success in trucking
“We've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there,” say the lyrics of “East Bound and Down,” one of the most popular trucking songs.
Rodney, a new trucker, not only drives a long way in a short time for his routes but has come a long way in life in a short time. After being incarcerated for 34 years, he was released in 2020. Soon after, he became a participant with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). CEO is a national nonprofit that provides employment services to individuals impacted by a criminal justice history.
While at CEO’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, office, Rodney worked on a transitional job performing road maintenance for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Then this spring, a CEO counselor told Rodney about one of CEO’s newest advanced training programs – the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) pathway program. He quickly signed up.
Rodney enrolled in a local truck driving school where he could attend their four-week CDL course tuition-free due to CEO’s financial investment, which covers tuition costs for advanced skills training. During his CDL training, CEO provided weekly stipends and case management, critical assistance that allowed him to take the time to complete the course.
He graduated in late May and started his first position soon after.
Rodney has moved companies a couple of times to find the right fit and he just started a new position as an over-the-road trucker with TransAm Trucking, a Kansas-based company. Rodney is excited about this job, which is more lucrative and less physically demanding than his last role as a flatbed trucker.
Rodney said one of his favorite highways to drive is I-80 because of the scenery. He also enjoys driving in Florida–he loves when he can see bodies of water from the road.
While the American Trucking Association reports a shortage of over 80,000 truck drivers, Rodney is an example of a ready-to-work individual appreciative of an opportunity to be part of this high-demand labor force.
He is quick to mention the support he’s received to get to this point. “I’m so grateful that CEO gave me this opportunity to get into the trucking industry and get this CDL, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done,” he said.
CEO is dedicated to centering its mission around investing in the lives of those like Rodney, whose story is worth more than a thousand hopeful words and chances.
Ready-to-work individuals like Rodney have the opportunity to be a part of the high demand labor force and mend America’s supply chain issues. When accessing these opportunities, our reentry population experiences workforce barriers which CEO assist with removing such as paying fines and fees, reinstatement of vital documents like driver’s licenses, I9 forms and so much more.
In August 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which invests $400 billion to repair roads, bridges, and the infrastructure support systems all while freeing up additional funds to invest in our nation’s workforce. With this flexibility, states and localities have significant opportunities to engage the 600,000 individuals who return home from incarceration each year. When going back into their communities, returning citizens look forward to becoming a valuable part of America’s workforce and building a life that includes economic mobility.