CDL Training Program Established for Native Hawaiian Women

Nearly 40 Applications Have Been Submitted So Far
Hawaiian woman CDL training
When they are licensed graduates, the women will be linked with potential employers. (Hawaiian Trades Academy with Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement)

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Native Hawaiian women are enthusiastic about an innovative Oahu-based program starting soon to train them to become truck drivers with new, well-paying career opportunities.

The commercial driver license program, scheduled to start July 1, is billed as the first all-women training program specifically for wahine, as Polynesian (especially Hawaiian) women are known.

“We are extremely happy and excited to partner with the American Association of University Women Honolulu Branch, who provided us the funding to launch this all-wahine CDL-A training program,” Kaneheilua Lindsey, program manager for the Hawaiian Trades Academy with Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, told Transport Topics.

Lindsey said AAUW Honolulu sponsored $40,000 to execute the program to provide women with access to potential careers as truck drivers.

Hawaiian woman CDL training

Students will have simulator use and behind-the-wheel training. (Hawaiian Trades Academy with Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement)

“We feel that it is extremely important to help more women in Hawaii gain access to the necessary certifications needed to receive better jobs in traditionally male-dominated industries,” Lindsey said. “Our goal is that through this program, we will provide a comfortable and welcoming space where women are equipped with the training and resources needed to eventually receive their CDL-A license, which opens the opportunity to begin or advance their careers in occupations with higher paying salary ranges.”

As elsewhere in the nation, Hawaii is facing a shortage of truck drivers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that more than 4,000 people are employed in Hawaii as drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks. The agency lists the average yearly wage for truck drivers as $55,560, paying 50% more than other jobs in Hawaii.

Kaneheilua Lindsey


“Truck drivers are essential in maintaining the state of Hawaii’s supply chain, and a shortage of drivers could have a critical impact on this chain. This is an issue that has persisted for a while, and a large part of that shortage is due to the low presence of women within the industry,” Lindsey said. “We’re hoping to address that issue by positioning more and more women to receive their CDL-A license, where they may potentially pursue a career in trucking that can earn between $50,000 and more than $90,000 annually.”

Hawaiian Trades Academy officials are excited about the positive reaction to the program from women, who make up 49.7% of the state’s 1.4 million total population. According to the latest estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders accounted for 10.5% of the population.

“Since we’ve begun promoting this program to the public, many within the community have reached out and stated that the fact that this program is women-only has helped convince them to apply and pursue earning their CDL-A license. Additionally, this program has allowed for them to feel more comfortable to pursue such a career, as it provides them a space where they are surrounded by like-minded women who want to achieve the same goal,” Lindsey said.

As of mid-June, nearly 40 applications had been submitted, with more expected.

Although the CDL theory part of the course will be based in Oahu, students will have simulator use and behind-the-wheel training at both the academy’s office in Kapolei and truck training site in Kalaeloa.

Women who graduate from the program will get job referral assistance. When they are licensed graduates, they will be linked with potential employers.

“We will provide opportunities for students to personally meet and initiate these conversations with those employers through mini job fairs, planned interviews, or meet-and-greets,” Lindsey noted.

Lindsey is grateful to AAUW Honolulu for its partnership “as we pursue a common goal in uplifting women within our home” and to other supporters who have reached out when learning about the CDL program for native Hawaiian women.

“Your support proves to us that there is a want and need within the community, and we look to continue to provide them, as well as future similar opportunities,” he added.

Interested participants are encouraged to visit or send an email to

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