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Program trains former inmates to become commercial truck drivers in Florida

Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 18, 2022

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — One program here in Florida is leading inmates down a better road while helping a major industry.

Thomas Cramer was locked behind bars. But he was trained to get his commercial drivers license through Florida HIRES and CareerSource Florida.

"I graduated from the truck driving school with a Class B license and was able to seek employment and gain employment while I was still incarcerated," says Cramer.

Cramer isn't alone. In fact, he was here at the capital with 30 graduates of the Florida HIRES Commercial Driver License Program.

"We were lucky enough to be chosen a provider for Florida HIRES program," says Tra Williams is the owner and President of FleetForce. Williams says the demand for truckers is huge.

"American Trucker Association estimates that we need one-point-one million new drivers over the next ten years. Florida needs fifteen to twenty percent of that number and that translates into about 20,000 drivers a year that Florida needs to be able to keep up with the growth."

According to the President and CEO of CareerSource Florida Michelle Dennard, nearly 350 inmates have graduated from the Florida HIRES program.

"Immediately up release they're hireable for a long-term stable career in the trade and logistics industry."

Florida HIRES stands for Helping Inmates Realize Employment Success.