Recognizing that cultivating a strong pipeline of qualified drivers is vital to the future success of the trucking industry, Mack Trucks partnered with the U.S. Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (JCCCC) to offer a ride-along opportunity for a Job Corps student.
Kandy Kilbreth, 24, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., rode along in a MACK Pinnacle model from Warrenton, Mo. to St. Louis, Mo. during a leg of the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree tour. The opportunity was designed to help Kilbreth determine if the pursuit of a Commercial Driver's License and a career as a truck driver is the right choice for her. Kilbreth, who is enrolled in the Welding Career Technical Training program at Mingo JCCCC in Puxico, Mo., has expressed interest in truck driving as a career.
"It was a great experience to ride along in the Mack Pinnacle during the Capitol Christmas Tree tour," Kilbreth said. "I think I would enjoy driving a truck for a living, and the experience of riding along with a professional driver helped me better understand what it would actually be like to be a driver."
According to a November 2012 report released by the American Trucking Associations, there will be more than 200,000 unfilled positions in the trucking industry for qualified truck drivers by 2022.
"Since trucks haul nearly 100 percent of consumer goods, Mack believes it's critical that we do all we can to help people get excited about a career in truck driving," said John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing. "One way to do that is to offer students like Kandy the opportunity to ride in a big rig."
Organized by the U.S. Forest Service, the ride-along took place during the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree tour, which is traveling from the White River National Forest in Colorado to the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C.
The Mack Pinnacle model, fitted with a special trailer, is hauling a 73-foot tree, which will be displayed on the U.S. Capitol lawn. Mack also provided a second Mack Pinnacle, which is transporting 100 companion trees to be displayed throughout the Capitol.
"Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers offer hands-on training in over 30 vocational trades. Job Corps centers provide the education, vocational instruction, and job skills training necessary to obtain gainful employment and earn a living wage," said Tony Dixon, Forest Service Job Corps national director.
The Mingo JCCCC is a residential vocational and educational training program serving students ages 16 to 24. Job Corps is the nation's largest residential, educational and career technical training program for young people in the U.S. The Forest Service operates 28 JCCCCs nationwide in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.
"The Job Corps program is impressive because of its focus on vocational and technical skills, both of which are assets for American economic growth," Walsh said. "Mack is proud to partner with the Forest Service on this work-based learning project, and we value the opportunity to help the next generation understand how essential the trucking industry is to our economy."