Three members of Congress have proposed $30 million for an ad campaigns over six years to raise awareness about careers in transportation — including the trucking industry — while promoting diversity in the workforce.
The Promoting Service in Transportation Act (H.R. 5118) authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a series of broadcast, digital and print media public service announcement campaigns to promote job opportunities and improve diversity in the transportation workforce.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen, D-WA.; Don Young, R-AK; and Angie Craig, D-MN., would release advocacy campaigns during fiscal years 2021-2026, with $5 million in funding provided for each of those years.
The need for more professional airline pilots, air traffic controllers, railroad workers and truck drivers, mechanics, among other professions, grows as industry stakeholders face increased competition worldwide. For instance, the aviation industry will need more than 800,000 pilots, 769,000 technicians and nearly 20,000 air traffic controllers to meet demand over the next 10 years. The trucking industry needs 60,000 to 100,000 more drivers each year. Not only does the transportation workforce face significant shortages, there is also a diversity issue: over 90 percent of professional airline pilots and truck drivers are white males.
To meet these goals and develop a more diverse workforce, transportation opportunities should be better promoted to all Americans.
“In Washington state and across the country, transportation means jobs,” said Rep. Larsen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “As demand continues to grow, it is important all Americans are aware of the career opportunities available in the transportation sector to grow the next generation workforce. I will continue working in Congress to make sure all Americans have access to good-paying jobs and more skills training to succeed.”
Truck Drivers Also a Focus
The driver shortage is a major issue that is plaguing the transportation industry, and it is only getting worse.
According to a report from the American Trucking Association, the industry needed 60,800 more drivers at the end of 2018 to meet demand, up 20% from 50,700 estimated last year. It noted that the number could jump to over 100,000 drivers in five years and 160,000 by 2028.
The industry is struggling to attract and retain new drivers - particularly younger drivers. Currently, the average age of an over-the-road driver is 46 years old and the average age of a new driver being trained is 35 years old. The lawmakers list 14 labor-related associations and organizations supporting the measure, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).