The U.S. Department of Labor has established the American Trucking Associations as an official registered apprenticeship sponsor, meaning ATA can now provide its member-companies the ability to offer apprenticeships to job applicants.
Under the apprenticeship program, ATA members will need to meet certain training and compensation standards as they bring in new drivers for a two-year apprenticeship program that will provide graduated wages as drivers develop and expand their skills.
“This is truly an earn-while-you-learn program,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a press release. “But it’s more than just a paycheck for apprentices: by participating in a registered program, they are eligible for things like child care, housing allowances, and other support as they start down this new career path.”
Under the agreement, ATA and its partner Fastport — a DOL intermediary specializing in transportation and logistics — will administer the program for the participating companies.
“This partnership puts us in a stronger position to help guide our members and millions of Americans as they pursue rewarding careers in our industry as commercial drivers, and we hope to build on this agreement for technicians and other trucking industry workforces,” Spear said.
The signing ceremony for the agreement took place at DOL headquarters in Washington, D.C., and was attended by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Spear and Sumerford.
ATA officials say the trucking industry is now short more than 80,000 drivers needed to meet the economy's current freight demands. Diesel technicians are also in high demand and short supply.
Apprenticeships can help fill that gap by combining paid, on-the-job training with instruction to prepare new drivers and technicians for these high-skill careers. They will also enable motor carriers to better highlight the benefits of a career in trucking through the workforce development system nationally, including expanded outreach and training support, as well as expanded support services for prospective drivers, ATA officials said.
“Cultivating the next generation of trucking talent is of the utmost importance for our industry and the entire economy,” said ATA Chairman Sumerford, CEO of J&M Tank Lines, in a press release. “This historic agreement formalizes the kind of commitment that motor carriers have always made to their drivers in terms of great pay and benefits, along with high-quality on the job training. With the added power of these apprenticeships, we can accelerate those efforts and help make our long-term hiring goals a reality.”