Harbor Trucking Association officials held a news conference outside the Shoreline Yacht Club Wednesday afternoon to announce programs they say will help reduce the shortage of truck drivers in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and help bring in more women to the male-dominated industry.
In a partnership with ChassisFinder—an online reservation system for marine chassis—to create the Trucker Chassis Connection, HTA will offer an exclusive pool of chassis for members, creating reliability and faster turn-times for port drivers, HTA President George Boyle said.
Dubbed an “industry first,” the program will allow members to register online and have immediate access to reserve and lease the chassis from partner asset owners and vendors, which will be held at a near-dock location, ChassisFinder Chief Operating Officer Kevin Higgins said.
“We consider the trucking community our customers because they are on the street, they are the ones fighting the battle every day of the week looking for assets to provide service to their customers,” Higgins added.
HTA Executive Director Weston LaBar said the partnership is a way to address recent problems at the port and help advance the possibility for those wanting to become owner-operators.
“Far too often we hear in the media what’s wrong with the industry and how people aren't making ends meet and what you'll find out is that’s not the case,” LaBar said.
Since the HTA’s collaboration with Long Beach City College in 2013, nearly 100 new truck drivers have entered the industry through a commercial driver training program.
Now, through a $220,000 grant from the Jobs for the Future and the Walmart Foundation, the program will be able to expand with a focus on recruiting more women and training 300 additional drivers over two years.
“We know that women are underrepresented in this particular industry and we hope that this grant will help to increase those numbers,” said Sheneui Weber, executive director of College Advancement and Economic Development at LBCC.
Currently, more than a dozen individuals are enrolled every three weeks into the 14-week non-credit program, which helps students prepare for driving, HazMat and safety tests as well as offer behind-the-wheel training, port tours and guest speakers.
Students do not have to be enrolled at LBCC to attend. Instead individuals 23 and older must go through a medical and drug screening, get their driving records checked and go through an interview portion.
With the grant, program officials will also be able to work with WINTER (Women In Non-Traditional Employment Roles) to bring in more women to an industry that typically pays up to 40 percent more for women than traditional female occupations, LBCC Workforce Development Training Manager Dana Friez said.
“These non-traditional occupations… are better ways for women to move forward positively with economic security and stability,” Friez added.
Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
This article was updated on 5/22/15 at 9:49AM to properly reflect the age requirement to attend the driving preparation program, which an interviewee had incorrectly stated as 18.