Florida Awards $8.2 Million for CDL Training at Five Colleges
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Five state colleges in Florida will be able to train at least 1,200 new truck drivers yearly thanks to an $8.2 million grant from the governor.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Sept. 15 the state investments to expand commercial driver license training at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, located in Okaloosa County near the Alabama state line.
“In Florida, over the past three years we have made significant investments into workforce education, with an emphasis on trucking and the entire transportation industry,” DeSantis noted.
Today, I unveiled Florida’s CDL training initiative, which will greatly expand slots for those seeking to become commercial truck drivers.
I am confident this initiative will move us toward becoming the best state in the nation for workforce education. pic.twitter.com/3eWAQ2cNPY — Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 15, 2022
With the new money from state coffers, Florida will boost its CDL training capacity at state institutions to more than 3,500 from less than 1,000 before 2019, he added, noting that this funding is “driving the growth of our rural communities and state as a whole.”
Alix Miller, president and CEO of Florida Trucking Association, told Transport Topics that DeSantis has been a champion of Florida’s trucking industry.
“We applaud his commitment to investing in our state’s CDL training and apprenticeship programs,” Miller said. “The funding recently announced by the governor is a game-changer for the industry and will have a major impact on increasing CDL training capacity at both public and private institutions across the state — and it comes at a critical time, as FTA builds awareness of the changing image of trucking and opportunities for the next generation.”
Among the recipients is the State College of Florida, which will receive over $1 million to expand its CDL program with funding to be administered by the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Nearly everything we depend on in daily life is made possible through the trucking industry, and these strategic investments will positively impact hardworking Floridians, the trucking industry and the state’s economy, while also ensuring that Florida is No. 1 in workforce development by 2030,” state DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said.
Northwest Florida State College was awarded $1.5 million to train 250 students within the program’s first year by improving its existing CDL program at Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs with new equipment purchases. The college launched its CDL program last September through a $413,800 grant from the CARES Act Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Rapid Credentialing Program, enabling it to buy trucks, trailers, hydraulics and state-of-the-art mechanical drive learning systems. The college also established an official public CDL test site.
NFSC President Devin Stephenson expressed gratitude for the support and said it enabled residents “to achieve economic prosperity through expanded career education.”
The largest funding ($2.6 million) is for Broward College to lead the governor’s initiative by starting a CDL driver training program to serve 250 students in the first year. The money will cover tuition for up to 142 students. Within the Miami area, Broward College educates 60,000 students yearly among its three campuses and six centers in Broward County.
Receiving $1.3 million each are Daytona State College and Orlando-based Valencia College.
DSC is partnering with Fleetforce Truck Driving School of Winter Haven to launch a CDL program for 200 students starting next February at DSC’s Advanced Technology College in Daytona Beach. An agreement is being finalized with Fleetforce to conduct the training while DSC provides a driving pad, classroom and office space. The plan is to offer a four-week, 160-hour program with one week of classroom time and three weeks spent in a truck.
Tamara Jalving of Yellow and TT's Connor Wolf join host Mike Freeze to discuss driver recruitment. Tune in above or by going to RoadSigns.ttnews.com.
In addition, FTA has an arrangement with FleetForce, which began last fall, to remove the financial barrier for aspiring professional truck drivers. FTA-member trucking companies pay the tuition costs up front, with an agreement to hire students after they complete the course and obtain their CDL. As part of the program, FleetForce conducts pre-hire screening to ensure applicants are qualified to enter the training and obtain employment. The program has a 100% graduation and placement rate, with 30% of graduates being women, according to FTA.
For the new DSC program, the state will cover 77% of the $6,995 cost for the CDL program during the first year while funds are available. Also, the college will work with local employers to create scholarships to pay for the remaining 23% of tuition for students who agree to work for employers. Graduates will receive a state-recognized certification for a CDL.
DSC President Tom LoBasso said, “A key element of our mission is to anticipate the educational and workforce needs of our communities and regional employers.”
CDL training is set to be expanded to 200 students at Valencia College, which also will spend funding on equipment purchases. It currently has CDL Class A and Class B courses.
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