DOT Expands Program to Help Veterans Become Truck Drivers
A major change was made last year to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) waiver program that is aimed to create more job opportunities for veterans and currently serving personnel and help them in moving from their civil jobs to become commercial truck or bus drivers. All 50 states, as well as Washington D.C., are included in the Military Skills Test Wavier Program.
“Our Nation’s veterans deserve good-paying jobs when they return home from serving overseas and we are proud to help,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Thousands of active duty service members and veterans have already transferred their skills to jobs driving trucks and buses through the Military Skills Test Waiver Program and we look forward to helping even more now that we’ve expanded to all 50 states.”
The Military program was commenced in 2011 when it began granting the state’s licensing agencies the power to control the skills assessment required to qualify for a commercial driver’s license for active duty or veterans with at least 2 years of experience of safely driving a bus or military truck. By skipping the skills test, the process for civilians to get a commercial driver’s license is expedited. Another advantage is that the overall cost for the license is reduced for those individuals that qualify, as well as the operating costs, incurred by the state’s licensing agencies.
Two additional programs were also announced as part of the Military Skills Test Waiver Program. The first one corresponds with the extension of the eligibility period for qualified individuals from 90 days to a full year. The second is concerning military service personnel returning with limb impairment who have a Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate issued by the state. This certificate will immediately be seen as equal to an SPE certificate issued by the FMCSA, allowing individuals holding one to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
The trucking industry in United States is currently undergoing a severe shortage of skilled and safe drivers and according to predictions by the FMCSA, the need for heavy vehicle drivers is expected to increase more than 17% from 2010 – 2020, which is much faster than for most other career paths. The FMCSA is hoping that the new amendments will help not only alleviate some of the driver shortage but also provide good jobs to current and former Military personnel.
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