White House Issues Plan to Strengthen Trucking Workforce

White House Issues Plan to Strengthen Trucking Workforce

Dec. 17, 2021
The registered apprenticeship program will be expanded to reduce certification delays and upgrade training.

Recognizing that truck drivers have been on the “frontlines of this pandemic”, and 72% of US goods are shipping by trucks, on Dec. 16 the White House said it was creating programs to ensure truckers were both safe and well-compensated.  

The White House noted that industry has a number of issues including, high turnover rates, an aging workforce, long hours away from home, and time spent waiting–often unpaid–to load and unload at congested ports, warehouses, and distribution centers.

According to one estimate, long-haul full-truckload drivers only spend an average of 6.5 hours per working day driving despite being allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours. That means about 40% of their capacity is not being used. Many truckers also bear the burden of gas, insurance, and maintenance costs, which reduces their take-home pay, creating significant challenges in recruiting and retaining drivers with the right credentials and experience into today’s trucking jobs.

At the same time, the industry reports historic demand for its services. Reflecting that demand, wages for employed drivers in all trucking segments have increased 7-12% in the last year alone, but employment in some segments is still below pre-pandemic levels.

Building a Pipeline of Truckers

The statement from the White House noted that it wanted to provide debt-free paths into these good jobs through high-quality training, such as Registered Apprenticeships. To do that the Departments of  Transportation and Labor are expanding this program; taking immediate steps to address the pandemic-driven delays in getting a commercial driver’s license; curbing the proliferation of low-quality training that increases the supply of less qualified drivers who end up in debt or being exploited; and expanding more seamless paths for veterans and underrepresented communities, such as women, to access good driving jobs.

Supporting this plan, American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan issued the following statement about the Biden Administration’s announced Trucking Action Plan: “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.  “Using apprenticeships will help any American pursue a career in this great industry for good wages and benefits in a safe manner without the significant debt many jobseekers can sometimes incur." 

Specific Action Steps

  • Take steps to reduce barriers to drivers getting CDLs: DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are supporting state departments of motor vehicles as they return to—or even exceed—pre-pandemic commercial driver’s license (CDL) issuance rates, which is helping bring more truck drivers into the field. FMCSA will provide over $30 million in funding to help states expedite CDLs. Today, FMCSA is sending all 50 states a toolkit detailing specific actions they can take to expedite licensing and will work hand-in-hand with states to address challenges they are facing. FMCSA will also begin closely tracking delays, identifying states that have challenges with issuing CDLs, and communicating with all 50 governors about ways they can reduce delays in issuing CDLs.
  • Kick off a 90-day Challenge to accelerate the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships:  This 90-day challenge is a national effort to recruit employers interested in developing new Registered Apprenticeship programs and expanding existing programs to help put more well-trained drivers on the road in good trucking jobs.
  • Conduct veterans-focused outreach & recruitment: There are approximately 70,000 veterans who are likely to have certified trucking experience in the last five years. The DOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will work with Veterans Service Organizations, Military Service Organizations, unions, industry trucking associations, training providers, and private partners to enable transitioning service members and veterans to attain good jobs in the trucking industry. DOL and VA will work to ensure veterans’ driving experience is recognized for those seeking a CDL and will build on proven models, such as SkillBridge programs for transitioning service members

Latest from Labor Management

#171785560 © Mark Gomez | Dreamstime
DOL Announces New Actions  to ProtectH-2B Workers
# 170547495 © VectorMine| Dreamstime
Labor Skills Needed for the Future