Trucking industry groups support a new White House program addressing the ongoing workforce challenges in the industry that have worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Thursday (Dec. 16) news release.
The Biden-Harris Administration announced Thursday a Trucking Action Plan that includes four strategies to strengthen the industry workforce. The program comprises a 90-day apprenticeship program for employers, accelerates the issuance of commercial driver licenses (CDLs), identifies states with CDL roadblocks, and focuses on recruiting, training and retaining drivers from underrepresented communities.
“We are encouraged that the Biden Administration has not only recognized the importance of adding new and well-trained Americans to the trucking workforce but has announced a path forward with what we believe will become a robust training opportunity for future commercial truck drivers,” said Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy for trade group American Trucking Associations (ATA).
The apprenticeships will allow employers to provide debt-free paths to a trucking career. The Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship will work with interested employers to build apprenticeship programs in as little as 48 hours, the release shows.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will give more than $30 million to help states expedite CDL testing and issuance. Several states, including Arkansas, have faced testing delays from a backlog created by insufficient staff, turnover and increased demand, according to the release.
The ATA recently announced the truck driver shortage had worsened to 80,000 drivers. The shortage could rise to 160,000 drivers in 2030, based on expected freight demand, the release shows.
The Trucking Action Plan is part of the Biden Administration’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that was launched earlier this year to address tightening bottlenecks in the supply chain. The steps included in the Trucking Action Plan comprise short- and long-term solutions and timelines to start to take action for the next 30, 60 and 90 days as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.
“We thank the President and his administration for recognizing the important work of the men and women in the trucking industry,” said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. “We appreciate any effort to support and expand access to quality driving jobs and address the pandemic-driven delays in obtaining a commercial driver’s license. We welcome the opportunity to work together in sharing our industry with a new cohort of drivers.”