Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced the Sunshine State would expand funding and opportunities to give residents a pathway to good-paying trucking industry and other jobs. Flanked by Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and CareerSource Florida CEO Michelle Dennard, the governor indicated five state colleges would receive a total of $8.2 million for truck driver training and $12 million would be awarded for registered apprenticeships.
“They’re going to roll 3,200 apprenticeships and pre-apprentices and support over 50 businesses in the year. Now, this will not be limited to truck driving. This will include occupations like heavy equipment, drivers, electricians, construction, industrial technicians, and fiber optic technicians,” Gov. DeSantis reportedly said. “And so now not every one of those is necessarily a part of the supply chain, but all of those are vital functions in an economy that is working.”
An expected $12 million would be awarded to grow 40 existing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. DeSantis also announced the following five colleges would receive funds.
- $2.6 million for Broward College
- $1.5 million for Northwest Florida State College
- $1.3 million for Valencia College
- $1.3 million for Daytona State College
- Over $1 million for State College of Florida
Florida ranks among the states with the most heavy-duty commercial vehicle operators at approximately 90,000. The state also proves attractive to truckers due to no personal income tax, warm weather, and an abundance of container ports. However, attrition, early leaving, and other factors have reportedly resulted in tractor-trailer driver losses.
“Despite our best effort, Florida currently has 5,000 fewer professional drivers than they did just a few years ago. And that is due in large part to inadequate capacity for CDL training. So, this investment will ensure that the family-owned trucking companies who are our corporate partners and Florida Trucking Association and others will not see their family’s legacy obliterated by inflation and ironically named short-sighted legislation,” Fleet Force owner and president Tra Williams reportedly said.
The State College of Florida has an ongoing partnership with Fleet Force that allows the CDL school to utilize the Bradenton Campus. The more than $1 million grant would reportedly facilitate an expansion to upwards of 300 CDL students. The funds would also provide access to the college’s Venice Campus.
“The funding came through just in time for us not to go off a proverbial cliff for the need for drivers and the demand. Training, in general, for CDL is vital to every community and 80 percent of the goods we consume, we eat, we wear, we use in our houses are moved on a truck,” Williams reportedly said. “The people that are training on this lot will be delivering your goods, are delivering your gas, are ensuring that your kids make it to school on time if they become bus drivers. There’s just no aspect of our lives that isn’t touched by this industry and I think it’s often under-appreciated and overlooked.”