The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) has committed its member companies to hire 100,000 military veterans within two years as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring 500,000 Heroes” employment initiative.
“There’s no higher calling for an American than to serve in our armed forces, and I’d like to think that driving a truck– delivering America’s most essential goods safely and efficiently is also a high calling,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves at a press briefing yesterday.
“That’s why we’re so proud to be partnering with ‘Hiring Our Heroes’ and committing on behalf of the trucking industry to hire 100,000 veterans over the next two years,” he added.
“Hiring Our Heroes” was rolled out in early 2011 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation as a public-private partnership “to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.”
The nationwide effort leverages the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s network of state and local chambers as well as the resources of strategic partners drawn from the public, private and non-profit sectors to help put these job-seekers in touch with employers.
Via hundreds of job fairs held across the country and a suite of free online career tools, the program to date has assisted more than 25,000 veterans and military spouses in obtaining jobs.
In 2012, the foundation announced the launch with Capital One of the “Hiring 500,000 Heroes” campaign, which has pledged over 1,700 businesses to hire 585,000 “heroes.” So far, 369,000 hires have been confirmed “with thousands more in the pipeline,” noted the foundation.
“A strong trucking industry is critical to the growth of our country and our economy,” remarked Eric Eversole, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president and executive director of “Hiring Our Heroes.”
Eversole called ATA’s pledge to hire 100,000 veterans “a tremendous example for others to follow.”
“It is rare in business and in life to find an opportunity that is a win-win for all involved, but that’s what ‘Hiring Our Heroes’ is,” said ATA chairman Duane Long, who is chairman of Raleigh, NC-based Longistics.
“It is a win for those veterans returning from service looking to transition to civilian life and a win for the trucking industry, which is desperate to find dedicated, hard-working and safety-minded people to fill many thousands of open positions as drivers or technicians,” he continued.
Long good-naturedly remarked that whenever he’s asked, “How’s business?” he replies: “It’s great, but my customers are mad at us because we cannot handle all the business they have.
“But we could double the size of our fleet,” he added, “if we could hire enough drivers.”
Indeed, ATA’s Graves observed that “the industry needs 30,000 to 35,000 more drivers right now and we expect [it will need] to hire 100,000 each year as both the economy and truck tonnage keeps growing.”
While Graves stressed that trucking’s “biggest need is for people who can work behind the wheel,” he agreed with Long that the industry also needs technicians and mechanics and noted that truck fleets are “willing to accept veterans in any [employment] capacity in which they can serve,” such as in dispatching or other areas.
It was also announced that ATA and “Hiring Our Heroes” will use the Fastport trucking-employment tracking system “as a single portal to help match veterans with fleets with openings.”
“Trucking has always been a favorite industry for our veterans because they are already trained to succeed in many great career paths," said Bill McLennan, Fastport CEO. “ATA’s leadership and call to action demonstrate the industry's affinity for hiring veterans and we are honored to help our talented veterans find great careers with those great employers in the trucking industry.”