Bill Creates Prison Workforce Pipeline for Trucking Industry
A General Assembly committee heard testimony March 9 on legislation creating a public-private partnership to address the state’s historic truck driver shortage.
CBIA testified in support of SB 334, which requires the Department of Correction to partner with a nonprofit to establish a commercial driver’s license training program for incarcerated people.
According to the American Trucking Association, United States companies saw a record deficit of 80,000 drivers last year.
Given that trucks move 72 percent of American freight, the lack of drivers is a major factor behind supply chain disruptions.
CBIA’s Wyatt Bosworth told the legislature’s Transportation Committee that the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated individuals exceeds 27 percent—almost five times higher than the state’s jobless rate.
“The workforce shortage crisis requires creative, innovative solutions to get people back to work,” he said.
“Creating a public-private partnership to help incarcerated individuals obtain their CDL is one of many ways to do this.”
SB 334 follows passage last year of a measure that established a vocational village program within DOC. That program provides 15 students annually with 240 hours of training toward a CDL.
The bill, which as the support of committee co-chair Sen. Will Haskell (D-Westport), requires DOC to contract with a nonprofit organization to expand and enhance the vocational village program.
Under the proposed initiative, students then transition to either a CDL driving school or trucking company to complete behind-the-wheel requirements.
Federal Pandemic Funding
The program is funded with federal pandemic relief dollars through fiscal year 2024.
New Haven-based non-profit Ameelio Emerge has contracts with four state prison systems, providing free video and voice calls, messaging, and education and job training.
Ameelio CEO Uzoma Orchingwa told lawmakers their proprietary, all-in-one upskilling platform for underserved populations could be utilized in Connecticut prisons for providing commercial learner’s permits.
After the CLP is obtained, the nonprofit then enrolls students with partner driving schools to earn CDLs or facilitate hiring through apprenticeship programs.
“Working with Ameelio to deliver in-prison CLP training will be superior to burdening the DOC with this role, because as a technology company that’s currently serving thousands of incarcerated people across the country, we are well equipped to deliver incredible virtual resources at scale,” Orchingwa testified.
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