ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) establishing ATA as an official registered apprenticeship sponsor.
The registered apprenticeships, which are connected to a myriad of industries, including the trucking industry, are designed to provide 90 days of paid, on-the-job training in an effort to bolster the nation’s economy, according to the Biden administration.
According to the DOL, 300 employers, industry and workforce groups have joined the apprenticeship program since its December launch.
Tuesday’s signing ceremony between the DOL and ATA took place at DOL headquarters in Washington. In attendance were Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and ATA Chairman Harold Sumerford Jr., who is also CEO of J&M Tank Lines.
“Drivers throughout the country have spoken with me about the rewards and the challenges of this career, and it’s clear we need to do more to build and support the trucking workforce,” Buttigieg said. “The Biden-Harris administration is working with the trucking industry and drivers to quickly launch registered apprenticeship programs that provide high-quality paid job training, reduce debt for drivers and increase the number of drivers who stay in the job.”
Trucking industry representatives attending the event included Yellow Corp. CEO Darren Hawkins and professional truck driver Alphonso Lewis, an America’s Road Team Captain and driver for YRC Freight.
“Today is a great day for our association and one we have been working toward for some time,” Spear said.
“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 work forces. We want to thank secretaries Walsh and Buttigieg for working with us to widen this essential, lucrative and vital career path.”
As a DOL-recognized sponsor at the national level, ATA can now provide its member-companies the ability to offer apprenticeships to job applicants while ATA and its partner FASTPORT — a DOL intermediary specializing in transportation and logistics —administers the program for the participating companies.
“(The trucking) industry is now short more than 80,000 drivers needed to meet the economy’s current freight demands,” an ATA news release stated.
“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.”
The ATA said that the apprenticeships 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.
“This is truly an earn-while-you-learn program,” Spear said. “But it’s more than just a paycheck for apprentices: by participating in a registered program, they are eligible for things like childcare, housing allowances, and other support as they start down this new career path.”
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.
“Cultivating the next generation of trucking talent is of the utmost importance for our industry and the entire economy,” Sumerford said.
“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.”
For more on federally recognized apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeship.gov.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.