The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded a total of $3.1 million to 12 community colleges and a handful of training institutes to train more commercial drivers for trucking careers, with a focus on current U.S. military members and veterans.
“Veterans know how to get things where they need to go safely. At a time when our supply chain depends on having more qualified truck drivers, this program will give those who have served in uniform a new and important way to contribute, and benefit, by launching a new career in this vital industry,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training Grant Program, which is run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has three goals:
- Expand the number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who have enhanced operator safety training.
- Provide opportunities for current or former members of the U.S. armed services (including National Guard members and reservists) and their spouses to attain jobs in trucking or bussing.
- Help increase training opportunities for candidates from underserved communities.
DOT said some eligibility changes to the grant program for the current fiscal year allowed for a broader range of institutions to apply. For example, the department didn’t require applicants to propose a local matching share of funding.
“This expansion will allow more qualified candidates from across the country to more easily be able to afford the training and licensing needed to join the trucking profession commercial motor vehicle drivers,” DOT said in a release.
Two-year colleges in the new round of grants are:
- Central Georgia Technical College, $150,900
- Collin College (Texas), $191,000
- Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland), $197,410
- Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa), $112,500
- Hawkeye Community College (Iowa), $132,359
- Johnson County Community College (Kansas), $75,000
- Klamath Community College (Oregon), $194,106
- Lehigh Carbon Community College (Pennsylvania), $193,677
- Lone Star College System District (Texas), $60,600
- Northwest Florida State College, $186,480
- Tidewater Community College (Virginia), $102,769
- Wor-Wic Community College (Maryland), $147,550
Several of the colleges have received the training grants in previous years. For Lone Star College, it is the sixth time. The college has a new Transportation & Global Logistics Technology Center housed in a 16,000-square-foot facility that includes six classrooms, a large driving track, six backing pads and a truck driving simulator.
Part of a broader effort
The Biden administration has focused on the trucking industry, which like many other industries, is in desperate need for skilled workers. The sector is vital to the U.S. economy as it moves 72% of goods in the U.S. But the American Trucking Association estimates that the industry will have to recruit nearly 1 million new drivers to replace retiring drivers, drivers who leave voluntarily and additional drivers needed for industry growth over the next decade.
Last December, DOT and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) launched a Trucking Action Plan to increase the supply of truck drivers by creating new pathways into the profession and cutting red tape to expand high-quality training through registered apprenticeships.
The 90-Day Trucking Apprenticeship Challenge partnered DOL with the Trucking Alliance to expand registered apprenticeships, including outreach to underrepresented communities, such as veterans, women, people with disabilities and people of color. As a result of the challenge, 102 new apprenticeship programs were developed and approved, surpassing the goal of 90 employers in 90 days, according to DOL. In addition, 574 new truck driver apprentices were hired as a direct result of the challenge, the department noted.
That effort was so successful that DOL is using it as a model to encourage employers to develop apprenticeships in other industries, such as cybersecurity.