The White House is spearheading a push to encourage more veterans to pursue careers in the trucking industry in an attempt to address a critical shortage of truck drivers.
Officials with the Biden administration met with representatives from veterans service organizations — including The American Legion’s Director of Veterans Employment and Education, Joe Sharpe — last week to encourage the VSOs to share the message with their members.
“We can think of few Americans better prepared to take on this challenge than our nation’s veterans, since many have military trucking experience, are familiar with safety culture, and have maintenance skills,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Tuesday news conference.
The push to bring more veterans into the trucking industry is part of the Biden administration’s Trucking Action Plan, announced in December.
“The pandemic exacerbated longstanding workforce challenges in the trucking industry, 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,” the administration said in a release announcing the plan.
Among the measures being taken to bring more veterans into the trucking industry:
· Helping employers seeking CDL drivers connect with federal, state, and other resources to facilitate connecting those employers to job-seeking veterans.
· Expanding partnerships between the Employment Navigator and Partnership Pilot (ENPP) to the trucking industry to more effectively assist transitioning servicemembers.
· Exploring use of the Off-Base Transition Training Pilot Program (OBTT) to extend employment readiness curriculum to connect veterans, National Guard and reserve members, and their spouses to a career path in trucking.
· Amplifying VA programs that provide truck driving and related training to include the Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E) program and the Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP). VA currently offers 120 approved commercial driving programs to veterans eligible for the VRRAP program, of which 31 are currently being used. More than 8,400 commercial driving programs are approved for use by eligible veterans under the GI Bill.
The administration has also compiled a list of federal resources for transitioning servicemembers and veterans seeking careers in the trucking industry. The list includes programs and other resources provided by the Departments of Labor, Transportation, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and the Small Business Administration.
“So, we see this as a win-win-win — getting more veterans to work, addressing the shortages in the trucking industry,” Psaki said.