Truck driver training expanding to SCF’s Venice campus

BRADENTON, Fla. (WWSB) - A program for Commercial Driver's License training and apprenticeships is expanding at State College of Florida, thanks to a £1.2 million grant.

SCF has had a partnership with FleetForce since October 2021 allowing the driving school to operate at the school's Bradenton campus. The £1.2 million will expand the program's capacity to 300 students and add an additional location at SCF's Venice campus.

"The funding came through just in time for us not to go off a proverbial cliff for the need for drivers and the demand," said Tra Williams, the president and CEO of FleetForce Truck Driving School. "Training in general for CDL is vital to every community and 80 percent of the goods we consume, we eat, we wear, we use in our houses are moved on a truck."

There are 5,000 fewer truck drivers on the roads in 2022 than there were two years ago according to Williams, who touts the industry he says offers economic stability and mobility. The typical course lasts five weeks, he says and the job market is good.

"The average CDL holder in the state of Florida earns £78,000 a year and entry-level compensation is now £65,000-£75,000 for class A drivers," said Williams.

The drivers going through the program play a vital role in the logistics and transportation industry for the state of Florida, he said.

"The people that are training on this lot will be delivering your goods, are delivering your gas, are ensuring that your kids make it to school on time if they become bus drivers," said Williams. "There's just no aspect of our lives that isn't touched by this industry and I think it's often under-appreciated and overlooked."

SCF was one of five state schools given funding.

The SCF program offers weekday and weekend classes. The Monday-Friday session runs for four weeks and the weekend sessions run for eight weeks. Starting in the summer of 2023, Fleetforce will be offering evening classes.

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