Last year, Congress reauthorized federal workforce programs funded under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) through the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As with WIA, WIOA allocates federal funds to states, which then push these funds into their local workforce through state “one-stop” centers. These centers provide intake, counseling, education, and job placement services for adults, dislocated workers, and certain youth. Job-seekers apply for grants at these one-stop centers, which enable them to pay for training or education that is meant to better-position them for employment.
WIOA made a number of changes to WIA in an effort to align job-seekers, training grants, and “in-demand” jobs. In particular, WIOA requires state and local workforce boards to fund job training programs only if boards consider the particular occupations or jobs to be “in-demand.” State and local boards are to “use state and regional business and labor market projections, including the use of labor market information” in order to determine which jobs will be considered “in-demand” within the state or locality for purposes of training program eligibility.1
While allocating training funds to “in-demand” occupations could help fill the 35,000 vacancies currently existing in the trucking industry, it could, ironically, contribute to more vacancies. If state and local workforce boards focus solely on local companies, rather than local jobs, when analyzing which industries are “in-demand,” CVTA fears that future drivers will be foreclosed the opportunity to receive grants for training. This would, in turn, further hurt the growing driver shortage in America.
In order to determine which jobs are “in-demand” for purposes of WIOA funding, it is imperative that all Governors and workforce boards understand the current driver shortage and recognize how trucking companies hire. Governors and workforce boards should focus on jobs capable of being filled within the state, and not merely focus on the companies located within the state. State and local workforce boards need to understand that many trucking companies will hire drivers located in all states. However, future drivers must be able to attend training in order to get hired. Once hired, these drivers remain state residents, reside within the local community, and pay state and local taxes.
Therefore, CVTA is asking Members of Congress – through a letter or a phone call – to educate Governors about the growing shortage of truck drivers, help explain to them that trucking jobs are local jobs despite the fact the hiring company may be out of state, and urge them to make trucking an “in-demand” occupation so future drivers can use WIOA grants to attend truck driver training.
1 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Pub. L. No. 113-128, http://www.doleta.gov/wioa/ (“The determination of whether an industry sector or occupation is in-demand under this paragraph shall be made by the State board or local board, as appropriate, using State and regional business and labor market projections, including the use of labor market information.”)