BOWLING GREEN, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that the state is awarding $2.3 million to six different institutions in support of commercial driver's license training and nursing programs.
The State College of Florida will receive $930,000, Manatee Technical College is set to receive $550,000, South Florida State College is receiving $415,000 and North Florida Technical College will receive $100,000.
All this money is specifically going towards helping students with CDL training, the governor explained.
South Florida State College President Thomas Leitzel explained how the school already has an idea of where the money will be used.
"We are thrilled because the $415,000 that we get will be purchasing our first truck driving simulator," he said. "And that simulator is used to get students advanced so when they go in that big rig, they're better prepared."
The simulators can replicate different road conditions, allowing students to experience wind, rain, snow and ice.
"We like to say at South Florida State College 'jobs' is our favorite four-letter word," Leitzel said. "And indeed it is because we enable our learners to get a job, keep a job or be promoted in a job."
DeSantis voiced his concern during the news conference with the truck driving industry's numbers not growing amid the ongoing supply chain shortage.
With the industry full of senior drivers, there are no younger drivers to fill the spots once others retire, he explained.
"The American Trucking Association estimates we're going to need nationwide 1.1 million new truck drivers over the next 10 years," the governor said. "That's a huge amount."
To fight back against the shortage of drivers, companies are adding signing bonuses up to $15,000 for able people to sign up and drive trucks.
"There's an opportunity here...to give people more opportunity and have [them] do well with very little debt or no debt but also filling a need," DeSantis said.
Along with CDL training, Florida Gateway College will receive $135,000 while the College of Florida Keys will receive $150,000 for nursing programs.
DeSantis explained how Florida leads the nation in business formation with 114,000 more formations in 2021 than California.
The state has more than 300 apprenticeship programs along with 338,000 post-secondary career and technical education students enrolled in programs throughout Florida.