- Gov. Ron DeSantis today announced an expansion of the state’s preexisting Commercial Drivers License college programs
- Utilizing a funding allocation of $8.2 million, five colleges statewide will receive varying amounts to expand their respective programs and raise annual student capacity by at least 200 individuals
- DeSantis also set aside half a million to assist in education-related expenses including tuition, travel costs, and certification exam fees
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced a series of grants totaling $8.2 million to five Florida colleges to expand their preexisting Commercial Drivers License programs.
Through the funding allocations, Broward College is set to receive $2.6 million to train an additional 250 students per year, while Northwest Florida State College receives $1.5 million to expand its existing program, also taking on an additional 250 students.
Valencia College and Daytona State College will both get $1.3 million to allow for 200 additional students per year, and the State College of Florida will receive just over $1 million to expand its commercial driving program and raise the program capacity by 300 students.
“This is something that is going to make a huge impact on opportunity,” said DeSantis. “We’re happy there was a great response to what we’ve already done. We’re happy that there are a lot of people who see the value in this line of work … but we have an opportunity to do better, so we are doing that today.”
Further, DeSantis stated he is allocating $500,000 of the Governor’s Discretionary Workforce, Innovation, and Opportunity Funds to be used through local workforce development boards to assist students with education-related expenses including tuition, travel costs, and certification exam fees.
Through the expansion, educational leaders believe that the state will be able to produce 3,500 commercial drivers per year including truck drivers, oversized load haulers, and hazmat truck drivers, among others.
The program will additionally expand upon apprenticeship programs within the manufacturing and transportation industries, with an award of nearly $12 million to start or expand 40 registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. The expansion will provide 3,200 new apprentice roles across the state.
“These apprenticeships are going to make a huge impact,” DeSantis said. “The thing is, you go through these apprenticeships, you’re not going to end up $100,000 in debt and you’ll assuredly have employment opportunities.”
Earlier this year, DeSantis announced $89 million in funding for workforce education initiatives. The funding included $20 million to accelerate cybersecurity and IT postsecondary pathways, $12 million to increase the accessibility of registered apprenticeship programs, and $9 million for the development of critical workforce need pathways like nursing, critical health care programs, law enforcement, supply chain professions, teaching, and emergency management.
“You have to provide creative pathways. Not everyone is going to go to college … This is an example of putting state dollars to work and providing programs that are going to have these young folks go straight into the field and potentially make six figures right away,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.