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Experienced Veterans Plug Skills Gap in NC

Over the weekend, thirteen service members from Fort Bragg became the ninth class to graduate from a state-sponsored commercial truck driving course aimed at connecting returning veterans with opportunities to contribute their unique skills to North Carolina’s economy. The course gives eligible veterans and their spouses a chance to use qualifications gained during training to earn Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) and ease their transition to the civilian workforce. A partnership of the NCDMV, NC Truckers Association and local community colleges, the CDL course – which costs only as much as a standard CDL license fee – illustrates how business organizations can work together with state government and local communities to boost the overall competitiveness of the economy.

It should come as no shock, therefore, that the course’s development was facilitated by a Chamber-supported bill passed in 2013 (HB322) that relaxed CDL requirements for skilled veterans. These experienced veterans provide North Carolina’s economy with a vast pool for talent and growth, but their skills have been too often underutilized. Fortunately, with vital sectors like manufacturing currently facing a skills gap in their talent supplies, companies are catching on and increasingly looking toward military veterans to fulfill their talent needs.

The NC Chamber has recognized the valuable contributions of veterans all along, and this year we continued to promote their value by supporting Senate Bill 43 (CDLs for Veterans Revisions), which received Governor McCrory’s signature last month. This bill further clarifies laws governing CDL requirements for veterans, and the example it provides could foster additional cooperation between the public and private sectors around initiatives that connect qualified veterans with jobs. We thank legislators for working to address this issue, with a special thanks extended to Rep. John Szoka and Sen. Wesley Meredith for their diligent efforts in guiding House Bill 322 and Senate Bill 43 to passage.

With growth only expected to increase in the coming years and decades, the NC Chamber continues to advocate for policies that ensure returning veterans can contribute their valuable skills to a competitive, world-class workforce.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber