The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hosted a roundtable discussion with trucking stakeholders – including the American Trucking Associations, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh – to explore solutions to truck driver recruiting and retention challenges.
“Our economy is getting back on its feet, but the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated longstanding challenges in our supply chain — including truck driver retention.” said Buttigieg. “We are bringing government, industry, and key stakeholders together to help support truck drivers and all the consumers and businesses who rely on them.”
This roundtable was one part of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to address the post-covid supply chain challenges, reports Heavy Duty Trucking.
The FMCSA news release noted that turnover rates are over 90% for large long-haul carriers and over 72% for small carriers, meaning that drivers are regularly leaving companies or leaving the industry altogether. The lag time that results in training and onboarding new drivers can result in driver shortages. This turnover, coupled with effects from the pandemic, has helped lead to supply chain disruptions for essential goods and helped snarl freight being moved in and out of ports.
American Trucking Associations’ Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan, addressed several topics, including the industry’s safety record, support for improved infrastructure, and the growing need for more truck drivers across the country.
ATA’s Sullivan stressed the industry’s high priority of reaching new talent — including the recruitment of more urban, rural, female and younger drivers — to help stem the tide of attrition. The median age of truck drivers is well above national average of all workers. The average age of new drivers being trained is 35 — making trucking a career of last resort, rather than first choice, for many, he explained.
Labor Secretary Walsh provided an overview of the Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeships can allow drivers to enter the industry without the burden of debt from training, help drivers prepare for the challenges of the job, and receive training on innovative technologies, he noted. FMCSA said it “will facilitate connections between stakeholders and DOL apprenticeship resources and help support the implementation of best practices and administrative actions to improve long-haul truck driver retention.”
“Registered apprenticeship — which offers workers quality, on-the-job training along with wage progression, and has been shown to improve job retention — can help build a more stable and resilient workforce,” Walsh said, according to the news release. “I look forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg and industry leaders to expand registered apprenticeship in order to improve access and retention in the trucking industry.”
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