BOWLING GREEN, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday awarded a total of $2.3 million to six institutions for Commercial Driver’s License and nursing-related training programs.
A check for $415,000 was handed to South Florida State College as the governor spoke at its Hardee County campus in Bowling Green, where he tied the need for the funding to inflation and a shortage of truck drivers.
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DeSantis said his goal is to make Florida the No. 1 state for workforce education by 2030.
“The American Trucking Association estimates that we’re going to need, nationwide, 1.1 million new truck drivers over the next 10 years,” DeSantis said. “We’re happy that since 2019 when we launched our workforce initiative, enrollment in high quality post-secondary career and technical education has been increased by 50%, and that’s a really, really good thing,” DeSantis said.
Joe Wright, chairman of the board for Southeast Milk, said Florida dairy farmers have found luck turning to educational institutions such as South Florida State College for new truck drivers.
“We’ve had a chronic shortage of drivers for several years now, we feel like we have found a gold mine in hiring drivers from our driving schools in our state colleges,” Wright said. “These are good paying jobs governor, our average starting driver will make $65,000 a year, our experienced drivers will make $80,000 a year without running up a big college debt.”
Dr. Thomas Leitzel, president of South Florida State College, said the money will be spent on a new truck driving simulator to help prepare students for road conditions that they wouldn’t normally experience in-state.
“They can experience wind, rain, snow and ice when they start driving on interstate highways, so it’s wonderful,” Leitzel said.
DeSantis awarded a total of $285,000 to bolster nursing programs at two colleges, Florida Gateway College and College of the Florida Keys, and said the recent upholding of a health care worker COVID-19 vaccine requirement by the U.S. Supreme Court was “ridiculous.”
“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses with these vaxes you know a lot of these nurses have had COVID, a lot of them are younger, some of them, they’re trying to have families, there’s a whole bunch of things that they have going on and so they don’t want to be forced to do it,” DeSantis said. “You see the shortages in there anyways, and now that is adding to it.”
Here’s a breakdown of where Thursday’s awards were sent:
- $930,000 - State College of Florida, for CDL training.
- $550,000 - Manatee Technical College, for CDL training.
- $415,000 - South Florida State College, for CDL training.
- $100,000 - North Florida Technical College, for CDL training.
- $135,000 - Florida Gateway College, for nursing programs.
- $150,000 - College of the Florida Keys, for nursing programs.