The Trucking Action Plan: Help for the Supply Chain and Logistics
10 Mar 2022
Geary County, Kansas, has a prime location in the center of the nation that gives it an unbeatable drive-time radius that puts multiple major markets within 600 miles. Kansas City is just under two hours away. This location advantage is a major plus for target industries like logistics, warehousing, and manufacturing that need to get goods into customers’ hands quickly. Junction City, the county seat of Geary County, can be reached by I-70, U.S. 77, Hwy K-18, Hwy K-57, and I-135. It has five exits off I-70, the nation’s main cross-country artery. Add in access to interstate rail and air corridors, and businesses are within next-day freight service for 70 percent of the U.S.
A major component of distribution is the trucking industry, but a driver shortage has bottlenecked the supply chain as the economy ramps up after the slowdown caused by the pandemic. Driver shortages were experienced even before the pandemic because of challenges such as high turnover rates, an aging workforce, and long hours away from home.
Trucking Action Plan
In an effort to improve workforce needs in the industry, the Trucking Action Plan was launched in December 2021. The Trucking Action Plan is part of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that was launched in June 2021 to address supply chain hurdles created when the economy jumpstarted after the pandemic slowdown.
The following 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 $32 million in funding to help states expedite commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). They will also send every state a toolkit detailing specific actions to take to expedite the process like expanding hours and locations as well as moving processes online.
Accelerate the expansion of registered apprenticeships
A 90-day challenge was kicked-off to recruit employers interested in developing new Registered Apprenticeship programs and to support those interested in expanding existing programs; all in an effort to put more well-trained drivers on the road. 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 will 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 that focuses 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 Apprenticeships (OA) has consultants located 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
This initiative is important for Geary County because of Fort Riley. All told, there are approximately 70,000 veterans in the U.S. who are likely to have certified trucking experience in the last five years. Because of this, the DOL Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will step up efforts and partnerships to help transition service members and veterans to good jobs in the trucking industry.
Use of the Off-Base Transition Training Pilot Program (OBTT) will be explored to extend 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
“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 up 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 in the field from underrepresented communities including women and young drivers between the ages of 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.
To learn more about logistics and distribution opportunities and available commercial sites in Junction City and Geary County, contact the Junction City – Geary County Economic Development Commission at 785-762-1976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are prepared for growth and ready to provide immediate and customized assistance.