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ATA urges driver training funding for veterans

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) is voicing its support of expanded educational benefits for veterans that address truck driver training.

The association wants a program that would include career training opportunities in high-growth industries rather than solely in high-technology industries, and an alignment of the veterans program with its original intent of providing affordable financing for high-cost, short term educational training. ATA is supporting legislation (HR 1824) that would expand the Montgomery GI bill's accelerated benefit payments to truck driver training schools.

ATA said that an estimated 300,000 service men and women transition to the civilian sector every year, and of these, about 78,000 have significant transportation experience.

Bill Graves, ATA president, said that providing accelerated benefits to veterans will attract many of them to trucking at time when the industry and economy need them most. He presented ATA's position June 21 before the House Veteran's Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

The long-haul heavy-duty truck transportation industry in the United States currently is experiencing a national shortage of 20,000 truck drivers. In the next 10 years, ATA expects the economy and the trucking industry to grow by 30 percent. Over the same period, economic growth will give rise to a need for a 2.2 percent average annual increase in the number of long-haul truckload drivers, or the creation of 320,000 additional jobs overall.

At least another 219,000 new truck drivers must be found to replace drivers currently of ages 55 and older who will retire over the next 10 years. Combining these two figures places total expansion and replacement hiring needs of the heavy-truckload sector at 539,000 or an average of about 54,000 drivers per year through 2014.

ATA this year launched its National Truck Driver Recruiting Campaign, a nationwide effort to promote positive images of truck driving and to recruit long haul truck drivers for ATA's 50 state associations and their member motor carriers. ATA made matching funds available to interested state associations for them to purchase driver recruitment advertising media to promote the Web site, gettrucking.com.

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