Today, the Biden-Harris Administration convened trucking companies and industry associations to discuss both near- and long-term challenges the industry has faced meeting the unprecedented demand for goods as we recover from the pandemic. Participants noted how the global pandemic had shown a spotlight on the important role trucking plays getting essential goods to families and businesses. It also elevated the pre-existing challenges facing the trucking industry, which suffers from high turnover rates, an aging workforce, and a rise in unpaid wait time.
Participants welcomed the Administration’s focus on developing a pipeline of well-trained drivers, noting the benefits this offers to driving retention and safety. Secretary Walsh announced nearly $10 million in funding the Department of Labor was devoting to registered apprenticeships, and dedicated resources to support veterans recruitment. Several participants spoke of the high return on investment they had seen from creating registered apprenticeships, and the speed at which the Labor Department had approved new programs for their industry in recent months. Several participants announced their commitment to use the new Registered Apprenticeship Accelerator, which can approve new programs in as few as 48 hours.
Industry participants discussed the steps they were taking to both recruit and retain a diverse workforce into the industry, from women to underrepresented minorities to veterans, and to create a safe and welcoming career paths for these new drivers. Some participants noted how partnerships with unions improved training, productivity, and retention at their companies. They welcomed the steps being taken by the new DOT-DOL joint initiative to support recruitment and retention of a next generation trucking workforce.
The members of the roundtable praised the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, noting that “infrastructure is our workplace,” and investments in roads and bridges will support their industry and strengthen our supply chains. They welcomed the Department of Transportation’s efforts to providing funding and technical assistance to States to reduce delays for new drivers seeking commercial driver’s licenses.