HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — With so much uncertainty in the economy right now, the Biden administration is looking to women to fill the ranks in the trucking industry.
With the supply chain seriously broken in this pandemic economy, Washington is recruiting women to fill the many vacancies in the trucking industry. The U.S. Labor and Transportation departments are giving tuition incentives to get women behind the wheel, with $32 million in grants just to expedite CDL licensing.
“I was in corporate America. I kind of left my job. People always told me I should drive for a living because I love to drive. So I just went out on faith, and here I am,” said trucker Gloria Simpson from Atlanta, Georgia.
Simpson made a fueling stop in Maryland as the week drew to a close. So is she an example of the hope Washington has for women in the trucking workforce?
“I haven’t burned out yet,” said Simpson. “I actually enjoy it.”
Truckers do say they like the freedom, but there are challenges, like just finding a place to pull over off the highway to get a few hours of sleep. But Simpson sees a future for more women in the cab of an 18-wheeler.
“I think,” says Simpson, “that’s it’s going to happen. There are a lot of women out there seeing opportunities. I have a lot of friends who actually do dispatch. They’re not drivers but they’re still getting into the industry themselves.”
Washington is looking for 100 employers to provide apprenticeships over the next 30 days to get drivers out on the road and the federal government is giving funding to states to help with the program. The Biden administration is making financing available to candidates for driver training programs as an incentive to beef up the trucking industry workforce. Federal money is also being set aside for drivers to lease trucks on favorable terms.