The Biden administration has announced a multifaceted effort to improve worker recruitment and retention in the trucking industry, citing it as a way to salvage the nation’s ongoing supply chain problems.
As reported by The Hill, The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are partnering on a 90-day initiative to engage with industry leaders, drivers and other stakeholders to improve trucker pay, attract new talent to the industry and better retain drivers.
“Today, the Biden-Harris administration is announcing a set of concrete actions to address the expansion of trucking," the White House states in a fact sheet outlining the new steps. “These actions will support the ongoing economic recovery and lay the foundation for a next-generation trucking workforce that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and support millions of good driving jobs for years to come.”
Senior administration officials also highlighted the trucking industry as a critical cog in moving the nation's goods at a time when the supply chains are under stress from the coronavirus pandemic. More than 70 percent of the country's freight is transported by trucks, officials say.
As part of this new initiative, the administration will outline efforts to connect more veterans with trucking jobs upon their return to the civilian workforce, with one official noting thousands have military trucking experience.
Another initiative will focus on registered apprenticeship programs where drivers can get paid while they learn on the job.
In addition to attracting new talent, the administration will also focus on making it easier for drivers to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL). As part of that effort, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will provide more than $30 million to help states expedite the issuance of commercial driver's licenses to those qualified.
“There are some elements in the plan we support, including further analysis of driver compensation and unpaid detention time," says the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in a statement regarding the administration's plans. “However, the plan fails to address excessively high driver turnover rates. Attracting and training new drivers won’t solve the larger problem of retention. We need to create an environment where truckers can have long, safe and productive careers.”
Meanwhile, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virgina, has commended the effort given the waste and recycling industry’s growing frustration with the labor shortage.
“We appreciate the Biden administration taking these steps to address the driver shortage,” says Darrell Smith, president and CEO of the NWRA. “NWRA has long supported increasing federal support for job training programs as well as for veterans to address the hiring challenges facing the waste and recycling industry due to shortages of commercial vehicle drivers.”