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December 21, 2021 1:00 PM, EST

Virginia Partnership Aims to Recruit, Train Drivers in the State

VA Ready CEO Caren Merrick"VA Ready’s mission is to help Virginians gain skills and help employers find the skilled talent they need," says VA Ready CEO Caren Merrick. (VA Ready via YouTube)

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The Virginia Trucking Association is partnering with a public-private partnership on an initiative to recruit and train drivers for trucking jobs in the state.

The Virginia Ready Initiative, a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership dedicated to training Virginians and helping them qualify for in-demand positions, announced the partnership with VTA with the goal of getting more Virginia residents trained and employed as professional truck drivers.

The program, launching in January, will pair Virginia residents who complete the training necessary to receive their commercial driver license with openings that VTA members have throughout the state.

A primary goal of the partnership is to staff 100 new drivers within the first 100 days of 2022. “Through VA Ready, more than 700 Virginians are working toward or have completed their CDL and they are ready to work. These men and women are from all ages, ethnicities and educational backgrounds,” said Taylor Beck, manager of partnerships for VA Ready. “This new partnership is vital for Virginia residents and for the Virginia economy.”

Dale Bennett

Bennett

Dale Bennett, CEO of VTA, said, “This program is about getting good people into good-paying jobs,. There’s a gap between individuals who are looking for work and the need we have for drivers, and we are looking forward to working with VA Ready to bridge that gap.”

VA Ready CEO Caren Merrick noted, “VA Ready’s mission is to help Virginians gain skills and help employers find the skilled talent they need. We’re delighted to partner with VTA.”

The industry is confronting an ongoing shortage of qualified truck drivers. American Trucking Associations estimates there are approximately 80,000 fewer drivers available than freight needs demand, with that deficit projected to grow over the next decade if nothing is done to bring more drivers into the industry.

Carriers have been boosting pay and expanding other compensation options to address that demand.

VA Ready launched in June 2020 with a mission to help thousands of Virginians access training needed to find jobs in in-demand industries. The group brings together the Virginia community college system’s 23 colleges, the commonwealth’s FastForward program and more than 20 business partners that employ millions of Virginians. VA Ready participants have access to 34 training programs, including health care and technology, and receive $1,000 upon credential completion. They also are connected to VA Ready’s business partners for employment opportunities.

RoadSigns

Host Mike Freeze talks to the 2021 Transport Topics Trucking's Frontline Heroes, Gene Woolsey and Cully Frisard. Hear a snippet above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

The White House in December announced the Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan. The initiative emphasizes, among other things, apprenticeship programs such as one that was included in the $1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by Congress in November, as well as enhanced efforts to recruit former members of the military for trucking careers.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November, included the DRIVE-Safe Act, which creates a federal training and apprentice program for drivers younger than 21 with maximum rolling enrollment of 3,000 participants.

“Trucking may be new to a lot of people,” VTA Chairman Ward Best said, “but we want to show our communities that [truck driving] not only provides an essential service that benefits everyone, but can also be a lucrative and rewarding career move.”

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