Trucking shortages discussed at roundtable discussion
By Josh Staloch
BROWN COUNTY – It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply chain issues throughout the country – partially caused by the ripple effect of the personnel shortage crisis the trucking industry is facing, with thousands of vacancies nationwide.
Northeast Wisconsin, which is home to Schneider National, Veriha, WEL Companies and others, isn’t immune to the problem.
U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher visited Schneider Trucking’s Driver Training Center Monday, April 18, for a roundtable discussion on those struggles.
”It really is, I think, hard to overstate the pressure that the industry is feeling due to the lack of drivers right now,” Gallagher said. “80,000 unfilled positions in trucking right now, that’s a massive number.”
Part of the roundtable discussion – which included representatives from Schneider and other area trucking companies, as well as truck drivers and students training to become truck drivers – focused on the education system, and the need to further promote the career to students.
“Our state and local Legislatures really need to take a look at our K-12 system and figure out how do we send the message to students that there are other options available besides a four-year college,” Gallagher said.
The roundtable discussion also included potential incentives for current and future drivers.
Earlier this month, Gallagher introduced a bipartisan bill – Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act – which he said aims to help address the driver shortage by providing truck drivers with a refundable tax credit.
“Obviously, this problem manifested itself in every industry. People are struggling to find workers that they can keep and that will show up to work, but it’s particularly pronounced in this industry. Given how critical this industry is to the overall health of our economical environment in Northeast Wisconsin, it’s a problem that needs to be solved in a nonpartisan way.”
Highlights of the bill would include Class A license holders who drive at least 1,900 hours a year would receive a refundable tax credit of $7,500, as well as a refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 for new truck drivers or individuals enrolled in a registered trucking apprenticeship.
Gallagher said his colleagues on both sides of the aisle are hearing about this matter back home, and know it’s become a problem that can’t be ignored.
He also said new incentives in trucking being offered by employers are increasingly attractive and should be considered seriously by young people looking for a career with longevity.
“You stand to make a lot of money in this career, right off the bat,” Gallagher said in support of anyone thinking about a career in the trucking industry. “Sixty, 70, 80, 90, even $100,000 dollars, that’s unique for 18, 19 year olds. And, if you still want to pursue higher education, you can do that. You can chip away at it. If you’re looking to make money, if you’re looking to invest in your future, while not foreclosing on the option of higher education, I think this is a great industry. And finally, I’d just say that these companies, Weld, Schneider, these are true blue, Northeast Wisconsin companies. It just seems like a great place to work.”
Following the roundtable discussion, the group toured the facility and learned more about the steps Schneider takes to train its truck drivers.