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Funds Awarded to Florida Colleges to Boost CDL and Technician Jobs

In an effort to create jobs needed to help with regional recovery from Hurricane Ian, Gov Ron DeSantis awarded more than $3 million to schools for commercial driver licenses and diesel technician programs.

On November 16, the governor awarded $7.7 million to support rapid scale credentialing efforts among three state colleges, two technical colleges, and local workforce development boards with a large chunk earmarked for trucking industry jobs.

The state funding, which is sourced from Florida Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant program, will help students in hurricane-impacted counties graduated with CDLs and increase job opportunities for short-term, high-impact training in manufacturing technology. Other programs involve welding, logistics, and aviation maintenance.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the awards:

• State of Florida College – $2.9 million for its CDL credentialing program
• South Florida State College – $618,842 for its CDL, welding, and tractor programs
• Fort Myers Technical College – $973,000 to start new programs for diesel maintenance mechanics and computerized numerical control

DeSantis also awarded $8.2 million to five state collages in September to train at least 1,200 new drivers per year. This state funding has already enabled South Florida State College to buy driving simulators for new students. With the new grant, the school plans to pay for scholarships, a full-time instructor, and a tractor-trailer to expand the CLD program. Their current 4-week CDL program offer in-depth, hands-on experience and provides connections with future employers.

To enhance rapid credentialing, $482,000 is being awarded to the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to provide credentialing program equipment across the five awarded educational institutions. In addition, a $1 million grant is going to CareerSource Suncoast, Heartland and Southwest Florida to provide training and support for rapid credentialing programs in workforce development to help displaced job seekers and businesses.

Other allocations included $200,000 for practical nursing credentialing programs at Cape Coral Technical College and $1.9 million for information technology credential programs at Florida Southwestern College.

These rapid-credentialing programs can be a gamechanger for those who may have found themselves starting over in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Offering a fresh start or help mitigating financial impact while learning a trade that is crucial to recovery in these communities will have a rippling economic impact.