APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The ‘Hidden Talents Project’ is giving refugees a chance to thrive with job training in high-demand industries. Fox Valley Technical College is training six Afghan and Somali refugees to be commercial truck drivers.

Asha Hirsi, is a refugee and now a truck driving student at FVTC. She said, “If you are interested and you have passion for that you are very good because this is my really passionate something I want to do in my life.”

She said taking this course fulfills a lifelong dream of getting behind the wheel of a big rig.

“I have a passion for this and it comes from I don’t know where,” said Hirsi. “From the heart.”

The project is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the department of workforce development and is helping underrepresented groups get in the door at FVTC.

Secretary Designee Amy Pechacek of the Department of Workforce Development said, “We know that there’s a worker quantity shortage due to low birth rates, accelerated retirement, and net zero to negative migration to the state of Wisconsin. So we’re really focused on helping those individuals in the state who still want to enter the workforce and fill those vacancies.”

Here in Northeast Wisconsin, the funds are going towards connecting Afghan and Somali refugees with the necessary training and job opportunities to grow.