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6/30/2014 5:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Funds for States to Train Drivers Closer to Approval

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News
The Workforce Development Act, which funnels money to states to train job seekers, including truck drivers, is closer to congressional approval after more than a decade of temporary extensions.

A bipartisan five-year reauthorization bill was approved by the Senate on June 25 on a 95-3 vote. It heads back to the House, which passed its version last year but must concur on Senate amendments.

Unlike the existing workforce law, the bill more strongly ties training to high-demand occupations, said Don Lefeve, president of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, which represents private training schools.

“It’s a really good improvement, and we think it’s good news for trucking,” Lefeve said of the Senate bill. “By definition, it’s going to be much more data-driven.”

Carriers are scrambling to find drivers as demand for freight continues to grow.

“Every year, there are roughly 35,000 more driving jobs to be filled [in trucking],” said Boyd Stephenson, director of hazardous material policy for American Trucking Associations.

ATA supports the reauthorization bill and will reach out to local workforce boards in the states to press them to allocate more training money for drivers, Stephenson said.  At the same time, though, trucking would like to see more emphasis on national job needs rather than on local needs, he added.

“The challenge that we have in our industry is, we’re a mobile industry, we’re transportation, so, where is our local shortage for over-the-road interstate trucking?” he said.

Robert McClanahan, executive director of the National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, which represents community colleges and technical schools that train drivers, said that in the past some training money was going to occupations where there are no jobs.

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By Michele Fuetsch
Staff Reporter

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