Last week, Ron DeSantis announced major expansion of Florida’s Commercial Drivers License (CDL) training as well as the creation of new opportunities for apprenticeships in Florida.
DeSantis awarded $8.2 million to five state colleges to expand the capacity of CDL training programs by at least 1,200 students per year. Prior to 2019, there were less than 1,000 students a year enrolled in CDL training programs, and with this expansion, state institutions will have the capacity to train more than 3,500 students every year. To further support his workforce development initiatives, the governor also announced nearly $12 million to Florida school districts, colleges, state universities, and private training entities to start or expand registered apprenticeship and preapprenticeship programs throughout the state through the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG).
“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,” said DeSantis. “With today’s announcements, we have now increased our CDL training capacity at state institutions from less than 1,000 prior to 2019 to more than 3,500. These investments are driving the growth of our rural communities and state as a whole.”
“We already know that a traditional university path is not for every student, and thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, students now have a variety of options to get on the road in a new career,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz. “With the governor’s continued support, our state colleges are perfectly positioned to meet industry demand and advance Florida’s economic independence and prosperity.”
“The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is proud to support Governor DeSantis in his ongoing commitment to investing in workforce development and training initiatives in high-demand industries,” said DEO Sec. Dane Eagle. “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 number one in workforce development by 2030.”
“Florida is a critical link in our nation’s supply chain, and the demand is soaring for Commercial Driver’s License holders,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “With the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis and our education partners, the CareerSource Florida network is honored to help connect Floridians with the vital training needed for careers in transportation and logistics.”
“Commercial vehicle drivers are a backbone of our economy and crucial to our continued economic growth,” said CareerSource Okaloosa Walton Executive Director Michelle Burns. “We are blessed to be able to increase our support for this industry and thank Governor DeSantis for his support for our region and this vital industry.”
Through the Job Growth Grant Fund, $6.7 million will be awarded for the following workforce initiatives:
Broward College ($2.6 million) – to lead the initiative, start a new CDL driver training program, fund tuition costs for up to 142 students, and construct a new driver training area. Broward College anticipates serving 250 students in the first year.
Daytona State College ($1.3 million) – to start a new CDL driver training program at its Advanced Technology College in Daytona Beach. Daytona State anticipates serving 200 students in the first year.
Northwest Florida State College ($1.5 million) – to enhance its existing CDL driver training program at its Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs, including the purchase of equipment, to potentially serve 250 students in the program’s first year.
Valencia College ($1.3 million) – to expand its CDL driver training program, including the purchase of equipment, to potentially serve 200 students in the program’s first year.
More than $1 million will be awarded to the State College of Florida through the PCOG program, administered by DOE, to expand the college’s existing CDL program.
DEO will also award $500,000 in funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to fund tuition costs associated with the programs through local workforce development boards to assist in the training efforts at Northwest Florida State College, Daytona State College, and State College of Florida. Funding will be made available through the following local workforce development boards:
$200,000 to CareerSource Suncoast.
$200,000 to CareerSource Okaloosa Walton.
$100,000 to CareerSource Flagler Volusia.
The additional awards through the PCOG program announced last week will support workforce education in high-demand fields. For the current 2022-23 fiscal year, FDOE has awarded funding to 40 proposals and will work to enroll 3,200 apprentices and preapprentices, supporting over 50 businesses over the next year. Programs include Tractor Trailer Driver (Class A and B), Industrial Engineering Technician, Heavy Equipment Driver and Fiber Optic technician.
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by DEO and Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI), and are chosen by DeSantis to meet the demands for workforce training or infrastructure needs in communities around the state.
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