Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, and Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration held a roundtable on Thursday to discuss truck driver recruitment and retention as part of the Biden administration's ongoing efforts to address supply chain disruption.
One of the trucking associations that was discussed at the roundtable was the American Trucking Association. Bill Sullivan, ATA's Executive Vice President of Advocacy, spoke with the group about the difficulties and possibilities that the trucking workforce and federal policymakers face.
To help slow the turnover, Sullivan emphasized the importance of reaching out to new talent, including the recruitment of more urban, rural, female, and younger drivers. The median age of truck drivers is significantly higher than the national average for all jobs. Since federal laws prevent younger drivers from participating in interstate transportation early in their careers, the average age of new drivers being trained is 35, making trucking a last resort for many.
Buttigieg led a discussion with stakeholders to identify best practices for increasing driver retention and reducing turnover. Walsh gave an overview of the Department of Labor's registered apprenticeship programs and how they can help drivers stay in the workforce.
According to a press release from the Department of Transportation, apprenticeships can help drivers enter the business debt-free, prepare for the challenges of the work, and receive training on cutting-edge technologies. In addition, the FMCSA will help stakeholders connect with Department of Labor apprenticeship resources and encourage the implementation of best practices and administrative actions to improve long-haul truck driver retention. The FMCSA is also working to address other issues in trucking, such as assisting state DMVs in returning to pre-pandemic commercial driver's license issuance rates, which is helping to alleviate the truck driver shortage.
An average of 50,000 CDLs will be given each month in 2021, which is 14 percent more than the monthly average in 2019 and 60 percent higher than the monthly average in 2020. Furthermore, FMCSA issued operating authority to almost 92,000 motor carriers, an increase of 88 percent from the same period in 2020 and 60 percent from the same period in 2019.