Driver Recruitment to Strengthen by Biden
The Biden administration has announced a new initiative to strengthen trucking driver recruitment. The 90-day plan will seek to increase awareness of the industry’s job opportunities and address national concerns about driver recruitment and retention. The goal, according to a White House executive order, is to promote public understanding of the critical contribution of the motor carrier industry to our economic vitality and quality of life.
According to industry sources, truckers distribute 71% of the commodities in the US economy, but the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a surge in labor shortages for the industry, with one trucking organization CEO saying that the sector is short 80,000 drivers, a new record level. According to the American Trucking Associations, when no change is done, the industry will face shortages of 160,000 drivers by 2030, and a million more drivers will be required over the next ten years.
The 90-day challenge includes a number of steps aimed at improving truck driver recruitment and retention. These include:
Make it easier for drivers to obtain Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL’s)
Each month in 2021, more than 50,000 CDL’s and Learners Permits were granted on average, which is 20% more than the previous estimate in 2019 and 72% higher than the monthly average in 2020. States have issued more permits and licenses by the end of October 2021 than they had in the entire year of 2019. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to fund $30 million in grants to support this driver recruitment strategy.
Bringing in more veterans
In the last five years, roughly 70,000 veterans are estimated to have certified trucking experience. With the establishment of a temporary veterans pilot program, this goal will be achieved as early as 2022. This outreach program will provide veterans with a coaching session and a practical exam to help them obtain a CDL.
Veterans qualifying for the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program can choose from 120 approved commercial driving programs, 31 of which are already in use.
Support drivers of all ages
With the support of local truck driving schools, employers will be able to hire more young individuals to help the driver recruitment plans in the next 90 days. The Administration is calling for more partnerships between state agencies, trucking companies, and high schools across the country to encourage students to pursue careers in trucking. According to the FMCSA, a lack of awareness is one of the main reasons why people do not pursue truck driving careers.
Focus on the participation of women in the industry
According to the Department of Labor’s labor force statistics, the number of professional “Driver/sales workers and truck drivers” in the United States is approximately 3,364,000, and only 7.8% of those are women. The DOT and DOL will work together to promote the participation of women in the industry.
This is just the first of a number of initiatives planned by the Biden administration to increase truck driver recruitment and retention. In the next 90 days, we should expect more announcements and news that will make it easier for drivers to obtain CDLs and enter the industry.
These changes should help keep our economy moving but more improvements are needed to keep growing.