American Trucking Associations (ATA) signed an agreement this week with the U.S. Department of Labor establishing ATA as an official registered apprenticeship sponsor.
The signing ceremony took place at Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters in Washington and was attended by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and ATA Chairman Harold Sumerford Jr.
“Today is a great day for our association and one we have been working toward for some time,” said Spear.
“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. We want to thank Secretaries Walsh and Buttigieg for working with us to widen this essential, lucrative and vital career path,” he said.
As a USDOL-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 USDOL 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. 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 also will 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, the ATA says.
“This is truly an earn-while-you-learn program,” said Spear, “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.”