Supply Chain Relief Possible with Trucking Action Plan
12 Jan 2023
Home to a wide variety of businesses in outdoor recreation, energy, petrochemical manufacturing and agriculture, San Juan County relies on the national supply chain for its economic well-being. Receiving raw materials and shipping finished products is critical for these businesses to meet their goals. The past year has been difficult as workforce shortages limit supply chain efficiencies. Fortunately, there currently appears to be assistance for businesses across the country, including those in San Juan County.
In an effort to improve workforce demands in the supply chain industry, the Trucking Action Plan was launched by the U.S. government in December 2021. The Plan is part of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which was launched in June 2021 to address supply chain bottlenecks created when the economy jump started after the pandemic slowdown.
The following concrete actions of the plan will lay the foundation for a next-generation trucking workforce and support numerous good jobs.
Expedite the issuance of CDLs by reducing barriers.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are working to support state departments of motor vehicles by working hand-in-hand with them to address the challenges they are facing. FMCSA will provide over $30 million in funding to help states expedite commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). They will also send every state a toolkit detailing specific actions to expedite the process, like expanding hours and locations and moving processes online.
Accelerate the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships.
A 90-day challenge put more well-trained drivers on the road by recruiting employers interested in developing new Registered Apprenticeship programs and in supporting those interested in expanding existing programs. Registered Apprenticeship programs are the gold standard of driver training because they provide paid, on-the-job learning. Expanding this proven workforce strategy in the trucking industry will ensure high-quality instruction for new drivers and help employers develop and train a skilled workforce.
There are currently more than 10,000 apprentices in the trucking industry. The Department of Labor (DOL) and national partners such as FASTPORT are committed to helping accelerate new program development in as little as two days. FASTPORT is a DOL-funded national apprenticeship intermediary partner focused on the transportation sector and is committed to working with trucking employers, unions, and industry associations to achieve program creation goals. DOL is investing $8 million in more national apprenticeship intermediaries who can help employers start Registered Apprenticeships.
DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) has consultants across the country who will assist organizations interested in starting a new program or joining an existing program and has launched a 90-Day Apprenticeship Trucking Challenge website.
Conduct veterans-focused outreach and recruitment.
There are approximately 70,000 veterans who are likely to have gained certified trucking experience in the last five years. The DOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will step up efforts and partnerships to help service members and veterans get good jobs in the trucking industry.
The Off-Base Transition Training Pilot Program (OBTT) will be explored to extend the employment readiness curriculum to connect veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and their spouses to a career path in trucking. DOL and VA will work to ensure veterans’ driving experience is recognized for those seeking a CDL and will build on proven models, such as SkillBridge programs. Partnerships between the Employment Navigator and Partnership Pilot (ENPP) and the trucking industry will be expanded.
Launch “Driving Good Jobs” initiative
The “Driving Good Jobs” initiative, launched jointly by DOT and DOL, will focus on ensuring a strong and safe trucking workforce. Key aspects of the initiative include:
- Hosting listening sessions that engage drivers, unions and worker centers, industry, and advocates.
- Lifting employers and best practices that support job quality and driver retention.
- Implementing research and engagement efforts such as studying the issue of truck driver pay and unpaid waiting time.
- Identifying effective and safe strategies to get new entrants from underrepresented communities, including women and young drivers between 18-20.
- Setting up a task force to investigate predatory truck leasing arrangements.
- Identifying longer-term actions, such as potential administrative or regulatory actions that support drivers and driver retention by improving the quality of trucking jobs.
Four Corners Economic Development appreciates the critical role of the supply chain industry to San Juan County businesses. Please email or call (505) 566-3702 today to discuss how the Trucking Action Plan may impact your business.