Seeking solutions for trucker shortage

Home Featured Post Seeking solutions for trucker shortage

trucker shortageThe labor shortage impacting the flooring industry is not relegated to installers; it has also affected truck drivers who work for the nation’s distribution companies. Research provided by the American Trucking Association (ATA) shows that if current trends persist, the industry could require approximately 160,000 drivers by 2028. If this prediction proves accurate, the trucker shortage in the trucking industry could have widespread implications on the economy.

So, what are trucking industry players doing to address the issue? For starters, major trucking industry associations like ATA are working closely with their representatives in Washington to push through legislation that would benefit the industry through more favorable regulations. Earlier this year, Chris Spear, ATA CEO, implored Congress to do more to help the trucking industry develop and retain the workforce needed to meet the freight demands of a growing country and economy.

“Over the next decade, trucks will be tasked with moving 2.4 billion more tons of freight than they do today,” he said in testimony before a House committee in March. He highlighted several key recommendations where Congress can do its part to bolster trucking’s workforce, which would better allow the industry “to safely and responsibly meet consumer and economic demands over the next decade.”

Among the initiatives Spear highlighted:

  • Shoring up the growing shortage of talent, most notably 78,000 drivers and 41,000 technicians. Spear emphasized rising rates of pay, industry outreach to bring in more women and minorities into the trucking business and “capitalizing on Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act development and technology for 18–20-year-olds to cross state lines, far exceeding all existing state requirements.”
  • Adapting to today’s business climate. “We need to end the unfounded assault on the 90-year-old independent contractor model, jeopardizing not only the jobs and lives of 350,000 truck drivers throughout the country, but the millions of other American workers who willingly chose this professional path,” Spear stated.
  • Untangling “federal and state regulations, from credentialing and certifications to combating opioid abuse and state legalization of recreational marijuana.”
  • Initiating a post-COVID Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act makeover to ensure the trucking industry is defined as essential, skilled and in-demand, and that local workforce boards resource trucking accordingly. “We need to double down on workforce development,” Spear said. “It is what gives every employee job security and growth opportunities.”

ATA’s requests did not go unnoticed by the U.S. government. The association, which represents roughly 37,000 members, recently applauded the approval of five bills by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee designed to support the trucking industry and strengthen the supply chain in general. The most significant of which is the License Act, introduced by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Illinois), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Jim Costa (D-California) and Josh Harder (D-California). The bill would make permanent two Department of Transportation (DOT) waivers that provide flexibility for the licensing of qualified new drivers to meet trucking’s workforce needs.

These waivers improve the application process for individuals seeking commercial driver’s licenses (or CDLS) by allowing skills test examiners to also administer the CDL knowledge test—and to administer a driving skills test to any applicant regardless of the applicants’ state of domicile or training. The waivers were extended multiple times by both the Trump and Biden administrations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no findings of adverse safety impacts.

“The comprehensive and bipartisan bills being advanced would address some of the root causes of ongoing supply chain challenges and improve the overall safety, efficiency and resiliency of freight transportation,” ATA’s Spear said following the announcement of the introduction of the bills.  “ATA has repeatedly engaged with Congress to discuss persistent challenges facing our industry, and we thank chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) for his attention to these issues and for his leadership. We also commend the bill sponsors who worked with us and other key stakeholders to craft solutions that would benefit our industry, the economy and American consumers.”

Creative thinking

While larger industry associations and institutions are working closely with government to address the truck driver shortage, there are also efforts taking place at the local community level. In Tucson, Ariz., for instance, there’s a push to train more truck drivers by combining formal driver training with English-language instruction. FCNews has learned that the Pima Community College’s Center for Transportation Training has partnered with the college’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (IBEST) on a program whereby some CDL classes will teach students how to drive trucks and speak English at the same time. Under the program, which will begin in August, students can earn a commercial driver’s license at the college after just five weeks in a classroom (or online) and four to seven weeks behind the wheel.

“We know that there are thousands of students in Tucson who are language learners, but who really want to access this career training and become truck drivers,” said Wendy Scheder Black, the career transitions and partnerships director of PCC, in a published article this past June. (Scheder Black clarifies that not only includes Spanish speakers, but also members of Tucson’s refugee community from all over the world.) “Their exam to get their license—they’ll need to do that in English,” she explained. But they’ll also need English on the job. They’ll need it to be able to communicate with other truck drivers in their communities. They’ll need to communicate if they have breakdowns.”

Flooring industry executives serving the distribution sector applaud the concept. “It sounds like a good idea,” A.J. Warne, NAFCD president and vice president of sales and marketing at Abraham Linc, told Floor Covering News.

It might also serve the flooring distribution industry to take a page out of the agricultural trucking sector, which is dealing with the same labor issues related to drivers. In response to an impending federal rule change that standardized training for commercial driver’s licenses, it will become more difficult for agricultural cooperatives to train drivers in-house.

To that end, the Illinois Farm Bureau now offers a scholarship for the commercial driver’s license training, which often happens at community colleges. The application asks for an endorsement from someone in the agricultural industry to show that the applicant is going to use the license to benefit agriculture.

“Trucking is a huge industry—and so when it faces a labor shortage, we need to make sure that agricultural products can continue to move and continue to feed the supply chain,” said Jennifer Smith, the development manager of the Illinois Farm Bureau’s charitable organization, IAA foundation. She said the scholarship has been a success so far.

Must Read

Emser Tile releases 2024 catalog

Los Angeles—Emser Tile has released its 2023/2024 catalog, available both in print and online. The newly released 450+ page resource offers an extensive and varied...

Latest innovations in subfloor solutions

Most professional installers would agree the ultimate success of any flooring installation largely depends on the condition of the subfloor that lies beneath. To that...

AHF announces exclusive partnership with Spartan Surfaces

Mountville, Pa.—AHF Products has entered into a strategic agreement with Spartan Surfaces, effective September 21, 2023. Spartan Surfaces will have exclusive distribution for the...

FCEF awarded federal grant for installation training

Dalton—The Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) has been awarded a federal grant to fund installation training programs at several colleges in Alabama over the...

‘Tuesday Tips:’ 5 steps to prepare for severe weather Dalton—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) released a new “Tuesday Tips” this week. In the series, WFCA experts presents short video tips for improving customer service...

Decocer to exhibit at Cersaie 2023

Bologne, Italy—Decocer, which specialized in the design and manufacture of small-size ceramic pieces, will participate once again in Cersaie with new designs this year....

As seen in

July 3/10, 2023

Some text some message..