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March 23, 2017 12:30 PM, EDT

Federal Transportation Funding Push to Boost Industry Jobs, Fastport CEO Says

McClennan by John Sommers II for TT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The adoption of President Trump’s call for a massive infrastructure funding bill would help promote employment throughout the transportation and logistics sectors, the head of a firm helping veterans to find jobs said at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

“A trillion dollars, think about that. That’s a lot of construction jobs. That’s good for our economy,” Bill McLennan, CEO of Fastport, Inc., said March 23.

Fastport received a U.S. Department of Labor contract in 2016 to facilitate apprenticeships for veterans aiming to commence careers in the freight sector, as a way to tackle the industry’s driver shortage crisis. 

At the conference, McLennan indicated his firm has been promoting the trucking industry with civilians and the military, as well as sourcing apprenticeship candidates for motor carriers. He also emphasized that addressing the shortage of truck drivers would entail collaboration with industry, labor, regulators and intermediaries.

Jose Velazquez, deputy administrator at the Office of Apprenticeship at the U.S. Department of Labor, said the industry has demonstrated an annual need for 100,000 heavy-duty drivers. “The transportation sector itself is hampered by the aging workforce,” Velazquez explained.

According to American Trucking Associations, the shortage of drivers across the industry was about 48,000 in 2015 due to shifting demographics, regulatory policies and demanding work schedules. In January, Trump called on Congress to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure funding plan. The plan's details have yet to be unveiled.