The WorldLink Truck Driving Academy ranks among the few Black, female-owned schools in the country and the only one located in Arkansas. Although the truck transportation industry is largely open arms to onboarding people of all walks of life, Black Americans make up only about 12-13 percent of all CDL professionals. While women have made significant employment gains in recent years, female drivers comprise only about 12-14 percent of the industry.
Those are powerful reasons why WorldLink owners, Gladys and Gary Godley, are reportedly teaming up with one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to promote a non-traditional employment pathway — driving truck for a living.
“I saw after their first year, a lot of them didn’t actually graduate. So, we’re picking up that slack for those who thought they wanted to go to a four-year college or wanted to make that commitment,” Gladys Godley, a former high school teacher, reportedly said.
The Godleys’ partnership with the Arkansas Baptist College Adult Education program provides students with an alternative, should the two- or four-year college tract prove too expensive or unsuitable for particular students. The ability to earn a good living without incurring massive student loan debt or spending four years without a salary has proven an attractive, life-changing experience for millions of working truckers.
“Now you can get your CDL and you can start making anywhere from $45- to $80,000 your first year,” Gary Godley reportedly said.
Arkansas also experiences a Some College with No Degree (SCND) dropout rate of about 10 percent. But Arkansas residents are also 11.7 percent less likely to attend college than the national average, based on EducationData. Over time, the number of college dropouts in Arkansas has exceeded the number of residents enrolled as undergraduates by 24 percent. While higher education is working for many, a significant number of young people and Black community members now have an affordable career opportunity.
“It’s about $5,000, which includes the actual tuition, the cost for the permit, the books — everything is included within that $5,000,” Debra Baker, director at Arkansas Baptist College Adult Education, reportedly said.
High school students can also bypass community college or four-year higher education programs and fast-track their careers in the freight transportation trades. According to Arkansas Trucking Association data, there are 44,000 truck drivers living in the state and 26 percent are considered minorities.