Maritime industry officials in Hampton Roads are discussing how to take advantage of the large military presence in the area to attract people leaving for civilian life to become truck drivers and help the Port of Virginia move containers to and from the docks.
The Norfolk area is home to the world's largest naval base, which supports the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The complex also includes a major naval air station. Oceana Naval Air Station is located nearby in Virginia Beach, and the joint installation for the Langley Air Force Base and the Army's Fort Eustis is located in Newport News. Fort Eustis is the base for Army Transportation Corps and specializes in training soldiers for operating all modes of transportation, aviation maintenance, logistics and deployment doctrine.
"We want to make a more direct effort to capture more of these retirees who seem well suited for this type of work," Art Moye, executive vice president of the Virginia Maritime Association, said in an interview.
Moye said he sits on a workforce development board created by the City of Norfolk to help place veterans in private sector jobs. There is high interest in steering ex-military personnel into the drayage industry as cargo volumes increase and qualified drivers become more difficult to find. The Hampton Roads Shipping Association, the employer association that interacts with the local bargaining unit of the dockworker's union on contracts and staffing levels, has also identified veterans as a good source for longshoremen's jobs at the port, Moye added.
Military men and women are highly sought after for these jobs because they are well trained, disciplined and tend to be young, Moye said.
The maritime industry hopes to utilize existing city programs to spread the word to military personnel in the region about the opportunities to transition to transportation jobs in the civilian world, he said. - Eric Kulisch