October 7th, 2021
Chip Shields, a former Oregon state senator, saw that truck driving jobs are among the fastest growing middle-income jobs, and yet people of color and women weren’t getting into these careers. Shields serves as a local representative of Schaeffer Specialized Lubricant which services the trucking industry.
To address this, Shields established the Portland Justice Fund which provided funding to Worksystems to develop a unique program that’s creating new pathways for people of color and women into trucking careers. Partnering with Interstate Trucking Academy and the Portland Haulers Association, Worksystems developed the Driving Diversity in Portland Program to prepare and qualify diverse job seekers to work in the recycling and waste hauling industry. The demand for recycling and waste drivers is strong, and driver jobs in this industry pay high wages and entail local work.
“The Driving Diversity in Portland Program has opened new doors into careers for people of color and women. I’m proud to be working with an industry so committed to inclusion and glad to have been part of making this happen” said Shields.
Joining in the effort, newly elected Portland Public School board member Gary Hollands is the owner and founder of Interstate Trucking Academy, Oregon’s only African American owned and operated truck driving academy. Having been Worksystems’ go-to provider for trucking training, Interstate Trucking Academy is also the training provider for this new program.
On October 8th the second cohort of students graduated and entered driver careers. To date, 80% of trainees have been hired by Portland Haulers Association member companies into permanent jobs that start at $50,000 or more and include comprehensive benefits. Shields was the keynote speaker at the graduation event.
Although the Portland Justice Fund grant will be fully spent after the current class graduates, Mayor Ted Wheeler has directed City of Portland American Recovery Program Act (ARPA) funding to support the continuation of services for Portland residents who’ve been impacted by the pandemic to re-career into recycling and waste hauling careers.
“I am committed to providing Portlanders, many of whom were hard-hit by the pandemic, opportunities to prosper in training programs that lead to secure jobs,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Driving Diversity in Portland Program provides pathways for those often overlooked in the trucking industry. The ongoing success of this program has shown progress in creating a more equitable workforce in the local recycling and waste sector. I have directed ARPA funds to continue supporting this important program, to continue Chip Shields’ efforts in establishing a stronger and more diverse trucking workforce in Portland.”
Driving Diversity in Portland is a partnership of Worksystems, the Portland Haulers Association, Interstate Trucking Academy, SE Works, and the City of Portland. The Portland Haulers Association includes the 10 companies that provide recycling, compost and waste collection for Portland residents through the city’s franchise system: Arrow Sanitary Waste Connections; Portland Disposal and Recycling; Elmer’s Sanitary; Heiberg Garbage and Recycling; Republic Services; Sunset Garbage Collection; Wacker Sanitary; Walker Garbage and Recycling Services; and Waste Management.
View video of graduation ceremony: