The Biden administration develops trucking workforce initiatives that put a focus on women and younger drivers
There were measures to address the absence of women and younger drivers in the trucking profession in the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The Women of Trucking Advisory Board will be established later this year, according to Robin Hutcheson, acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who recently spoke of this at her most recent appearance in Congress. According to Hutcheson, who President Joe Biden recommended managing the agency full-time, the Biden administration is in favor of the advantages that would come from having more women working in the trucking industry.
During a meeting of the Senate Commerce Committee on June 8, the head of the FMCSA expressed her opinions about new initiatives targeted at the trucking industry.
Regarding the advisory board, Hutcheson said they anticipate being able to host a kick-off meeting in late summer. She also stated that it will be responsible for identifying obstacles that prevent women from entering and remaining in the driving industry.
By the end of the summer, the organization plans to reveal the board’s members. To make sure the board’s members can represent a cross-section of the women in the sector, FMCSA has already called for nominations. FMCSA stated that a rigorous and in-depth evaluation procedure is now being carried out.
The board’s objective will be to offer suggestions and address a variety of workplace issues. These worries might be about possibilities for professional growth, safety concerns, harassment in the workplace, or mentoring lack. Through a series of evaluations and reports intended as suggestions for regulators and authorities, the board would also try to identify methods to increase the participation of women in trucking.
Stakeholders believe that boosting the presence of women in the workforce would contribute to resolving the industry’s persistent driver shortage. According to American Trucking Associations, which analyzes employment data, there are 80,000 commercial drivers needed in the sector. Transport experts have stated that having more drivers will likely help to reduce supply chain delays. Lack of goods and workers as a result of supply chain bottlenecks is believed to be a factor in inflation and rising consumer prices.
The departments of Transportation and Labor are entrusted with creating new entry points into the trucking industry for underrepresented groups, such as women.
At a White House event advocating transportation initiatives in April, Biden stated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new operators, particularly women and people of color, to a profession that is vital to our country and its economy. Additionally, he stated that the Labor and Transportation Departments were collaborating closely with the industry to address the challenges faced by women in the trucking industry, hire and retrain more female drivers and attract more Americans to the workforce with higher pay, shorter wait times, and improved safety, among other things.
Women are significantly underrepresented in the trucking industry, according to experts. According to the advocacy group Women In Trucking, they represent 10% of OTR drivers in the trucking industry. In June, president and CEO of Women in Trucking stated that she expects the board to be able to assist in achieving a variety of goals.
According to White House representatives, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board’s duties include examining and reporting on issues like on-the-job safety risks, mentorship, high-quality training, and career advancement opportunities that affect women truck drivers and those considering a career in the industry.
Stakeholders including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and ATA have supported the board.
Younger Driver Recruitment
The $1 trillion infrastructure package also includes an apprenticeship program that permits truck drivers under the age of 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines. Such procedures are forbidden under federal legislation.
To establish prospective eligibility for the young safe driver apprenticeship, FMCSA has specifically been analyzing motor carriers. The new $1 trillion law, according to proponents of the workforce initiatives, may open up new employment prospects. The law permits employers in the public and private sectors to hire more people for a variety of jobs.
The under-21 safe driving apprenticeship was supported by Commerce Committee member Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.). According to White House representatives, the safe driver apprenticeship aims “to safely link American adults under the age of 21 to well-paying professions in the trucking sector.”
Young stated on June 8 that under the same apprenticeship model, pilot program will help solve the driver shortage, gives new job options for young Hoosiers and other Americans, and assist in making the roadways safer.
He also stressed the value of the nation’s logistics and transportation sectors and how drivers overcame the difficulties of continuing to provide services throughout the epidemic.