Massachusetts to Fund CDL Training for Workforce Re-Entry

Program Includes Formerly Incarcerated People
driver behind wheel
Transportation is a high-demand employment sector. (welcomia/Getty Images)

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A program to train formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain commercial driver licenses is part of $2.59 million in grants recently awarded in Massachusetts across 14 organizations.

“These grants will help ensure that individuals re-entering our communities have access to meaningful career pathways to set themselves up for success in this next chapter of their lives and obtain new skills and experience in high-demand industries,” Gov. Maura Healey announced July 10. “At the same time, we can connect employers with skilled talent to help them meet their workforce needs.”

The funding is part of the state’s Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Grants Program initiative, administered by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Commonwealth Corp (CommCorp).

According to CommCorp, Massachusetts has an incarceration rate of 275 per 100,000 people (in prisons, jails, immigration detention and juvenile facilities). Every day, more than 19,000 people are held in Massachusetts correctional facilities.

In addition, a 2015 study of men and women released from custody in the state revealed that nearly half had been unable to find a full-time job one year after re-entering society.

Lauren Jones, state secretary of labor and workforce development, said, “Workforce challenges persist across the commonwealth, across industries and are impacting businesses large and small. That’s why the Healey-Driscoll administration and I are excited to announce these grant awards to deliver valuable job training and meaningful outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals in Massachusetts.”

The goal of all grants in this program is to improve the ability of formerly incarcerated people to find employment upon returning to their communities. A key element is linking job seekers with employers in high-demand sectors such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, food services and hospitality.

Most of the awards amounted to $200,000 and were given to 12 organizations. The Hampden County Sheriff’s Office in Springfield will receive $200,000 to partner with Urban Impact Initiative Massachusetts to provide training that focuses on CDLs, building trades, construction and the hospitality industry. The smallest grant, for $35,450, went to the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office for carpentry training. Successful graduates will be placed in jobs as light truck drivers, tractor-trailer drivers, cooks and customer service workers.

Massachusetts pie chart

FY 2023 re-entry planned enrollments by industry. (CommCorp)

“This significant investment in re-entry programs will empower individuals returning from incarceration and transform outcomes. Access to meaningful programs and equitable pathways advance successful re-entry, disrupt cycles of economic adversity and strengthen communities,” said Terrence Reidy, state secretary of public safety and security. “We commend the grant awardees for their dedication and tireless efforts to deliver these life-changing programs designed to improve people’s lives and reduce recidivism.”

Last fiscal year, Massasoit Community College in Brockton received a $160,000 grant from the program to partner with Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department to provide workforce re-entry training for diesel mechanic technicians. Graduates were partnered with potential employers.

Another $160,000 grant from last year’s funding was made to South Bay House of Correction in Boston and community-based organizations to provide training for re-entry jobs in the logistics, warehouse and transportation industry.

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