AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Labor (DOL) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) are partnering on a campaign to offer free training to veterans who are interested in becoming a school bus driver.
The 2017 Maine Hire-A-Vet campaign will be unveiled at a job fair held by the Maine DOL on Aug. 29. The campaign officially begins on Sept. 4, according to the Maine DOL.
The initiative, which is designed to help fill an anticipated shortage of school bus drivers in Maine and nationally, offers free training at school districts across the state.
According to a 2015 jointly released report of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Department of Labor, school bus drivers and special-needs school bus drivers hold the second highest number of job openings in the nation. The report also identifies a need for bus mechanics and diesel engine specialists.
Since there is already a high percentage of Maine school bus drivers who are veterans, the initiative is expected to attract the attention of more veterans who may be transitioning from serving or who are retired (76% of Maine’s veterans are over age 50, according to the Maine DOE). A flexible schedule may be especially accommodating for veterans who are looking for a part-time job.
There are expected to be about 50 school bus driver job openings statewide for the coming school year, and there is also a need for school bus mechanics, according to the Maine DOE.
Although the initiative is specifically geared toward veterans, the free training is available to anyone interested in becoming a school bus driver.
The pay for licensed school bus drivers in Maine ranges from $11 to $25 per hour — including for part-time schedules — with benefits based on location, according to the Maine DOE. Some positions include pay while learning to drive and/or a hiring bonus.
Pat Hinckley, the transportation and facilities administrator at the Maine DOE, told The Forecaster that veterans are good candidates for school bus driver positions because of their background, which includes “transportation, security, safety, mechanics, heavy equipment, teamwork, (and) attention to detail.”
“We encourage school districts and any employer to join the campaign to learn how to best recruit and hire veterans,” said Julie Rabinowitz, the director of policy, operations, and communication for the Maine DOL.
For more information, contact Pat Hinckley at (207) 624-6886 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit maine.gov/doe/transportation/.