Many U.S. veterans are looking for good jobs. Trucking companies are looking for good workers. The commercial trucking industry is hoping that combination might lead to a match made in heaven.
There were roughly 573,000 unemployed U.S. veterans in 2014, and an additional 10.5 million who were not considered to be in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The American Trucking Associations says that the trucking industry is short about 48,000 drivers nationwide, a figure that could reach 174,000 by 2024. These numbers might just reflect a mutually beneficial relationship, which could lead to more vets getting behind the wheel of big rigs in the United States.
There are a number of reasons why vets are a viable solution to the trucking industry’s driver shortage:
Vets Are Outstanding Employees
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs addresses this issue convincingly and with great authority, pointing out many of the great attributes that military veterans offer our workforce. Discipline, organization, diligent work ethics, and problem-solving skills are just a few of the many reasons that any employer would value the skill set of a veteran. They also have an incredible set of cross-functional skills that include training in many different technical aspects across multiple disciplines. Vets have proven to be dedicated, confident workers who are a great asset to any employer.
The FMCSA Is Providing Grants
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently announced that it is doubling the grants, now up to $2.3 million, to technical and community colleges for the training of veterans seeking to take on the role of a truck driver. The FMCSA has made the task of obtaining a commercial driver’s license easier for veterans, offering waivers and incentives in cases where soldiers have driving experience.
The ATA Is Reaching Out
In December 2014, the American Trucking Associations stated that it was committing on behalf of the trucking industry to hire 100,000 veterans over a two-year period. “A strong trucking industry is critical to the growth of our country and our economy. ATA’s pledge to hire and support 100,000 veterans sets a tremendous example for others to follow,” said Eric Eversole, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president in a press release from the ATA. Eversole also serves as executive director of Hire Our Heroes, a non-profit organization whose initiative is to find employment for veterans. The ATA and Hire Our Heroes are utilizing the trucking-track system FASTPORT as their portal for connecting vets to job openings.
Vets Are Well-Suited for the Role
“There’s a lot of synergy between what you do in the military and what professional drivers’ responsibilities are,” said FASTPORT CEO Bill McLennan in an interview on Hiring America, a television program dedicated to veteran employment “These young men and women in our military have already worked for the largest, most sophisticated supply-chain company in the world — our military.” McLennan goes on to say that being mission-oriented and adaptable to many different weather conditions are also important qualities that make veterans uniquely qualified to be truck drivers.
A symbiotic relationship between veterans and the trucking industry could help solve two problems facing our nation and lead to a happy ending in what has been a worrisome time for a sector whose success is fundamental to the future of American commerce.