In an effort to improve the nation’s prolonged supply chain problems, the White House announced a plan to recruit and train a new generation of truck drivers to boost the industry during the pandemic.
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced a Trucking Action Plan to strengthen America's trucking workforce, according to the White House.
- The statement said that “outdated infrastructure, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a historic volume of goods moving through our economy” have strained the supply chain, which includes trucking.
- Trucks are responsible for carrying about 72% of goods in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, and in most communities, trucking is the only form of delivery.
- The industry, as of late, has had underlying problems — including an aging workforce, high turnover rates and unpaid, wasted time for drivers, said the White House.
The administration said it is taking steps to reduce barriers for drivers to get their commercial driver’s license, which entails using strategies — such as increasing personnel and hours of operation or moving appointments online — to solve delays and backlogs.
- Per Reuters, the Transportation Department is providing $30 million to help states expedite the issuance of commercial driver’s licenses.
- The department also plans to expand Registered Apprenticeship programs for truck drivers, and outreach to veterans for recruiting new drivers.
- A “Driving Good Jobs” initiative will be launched to support drivers and recruit them from underrepresented communities, said the White House.
Teamsters President Jim Hoffa argued there “is no shortage of experienced truckers. However, there is a problem with these drivers getting fair pay and treatment from their employers,” per Reuters.
- He added, “truckers are being taken for granted by big business even after all the work they did to keep America running during the most difficult days of COVID-19.”
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will join National Economic Council Director Brian Deese in hosting a roundtable with leaders in the trucking industry at the White House, according to NPR.