UniteGPS – Six colleges across Florida will offer commercial driver’s license (CDL) programs following the allocation of  $2.3 million from the state government. Gov. Ron DeSantis revealed the funding on Jan. 20, 2022, while attending an event at South Florida State College. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis calls for more commercial driver’s license programs at FL colleges

The goal is two-fold: help Florida residents earn higher-paying jobs as well as counteract the workforce shortage, particularly within the school bus driver industry. Not only are school districts at a breaking point due to COVID-19 but also pessimistic about new federal CDL regulations and training requirements coming into effect on Feb. 7. 

Laid out in the budget, State College of Florida with campuses in Bradenton and Venice expects to receive $930,000. From there, Manatee Technical College in Bradenton anticipates $550,000, South Florida State College in Avon Park $415,000, and North Florida Technical College in Starke $100,000. 

CDL holders can earn between $65,000 and $80,000 a year, according to Chairman of Southeast Milk, Joe Wright, who also spoke at the Thursday event. Nursing certification programs at Florida Gateway College as well as the College of Florida Keys will receive additional funds.

Commercial Driver’s License training in Florida

With the American Truckers Association calculating the need for 1.1 million new truck drivers over the next 10 years, remarks by Gov. DeSantis ultimately encouraged young people to consider a CDL as a legitimate career option, making some sarcastic comments along the way. 

“If you look at our economy now, a four-year university degree is not always the best way to be successful,” said DeSantis, who previously signed three bills to elevate vocational education in Florida.

“In fact, you have a lot of people who will go deep into debt and will end up with a degree in something like ‘zombie-studies’ and then they wonder why the seas don’t part for them. It’s not necessarily about having a sheet of paper, but it’s really about what skills or knowledge are you being equipped with.”

This is Florida’s latest effort to become the center of workforce education by 2030. Prior to this, the state budget included $10 million for apprenticeship grants, $25 million for workforce funds at state colleges, plus $600,000 for the Department of Education and Career Source Florida to fund apprenticeships.