$6 million in new state grants aim to boost hiring of commercial truck drivers

DES MOINES — Trucking companies and other organizations that train commercial truck drivers could be eligible for grants under a new $6 million program announced Monday by the state.

Under the new entry-level driver training program, employers, non-profit organizations and “related organizations” that sponsor or partner with commercial driver training programs would be eligible for the reimbursement of grants.

In a press release, Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said the new grant program is designed to help businesses and organizations cope. the cost of training new commercial truck drivers.

“Like the rest of the nation, Iowa also has a high demand for truck drivers; and in order to meet this demand, we need innovative solutions that lower the barriers for anyone wishing to obtain a CDL license,” Reynolds said in the press release. “This new program will remove the barriers that currently exist to obtaining a CDL and provide support to organizations that sponsor these essential training opportunities right here in Iowa.”

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Recently, CRST, a national trucking company based in Cedar Rapids, announced that it would be closing its Cedar Rapids truck driver training school before the end of the year after nearly a decade in operation. Company executives told The Gazette the decision was made to focus on retaining current drivers rather than training new ones, especially since in those roughly 10 years only 2 Approximately % of CRST training school graduates were Iowans.

To be eligible for the new grants, a company or organization must employ Iowa commercial truckers and provide beginner driver training in-house or through a third party. For companies that train in-house, grants can be earmarked for instructor salaries, instructional materials, and maintenance; for companies that use a third party for training, the subsidies must be used for tuition fees.

In the press release, Townsend claimed that the new grant program will provide more opportunities for individuals to obtain a CDL and will make it easier for companies to recruit and train drivers.

“This effort will also make our state more competitive in these high-demand areas by helping employers provide the right training when and where their workers need it,” Townsend said in the news release.

Grant applications can be viewed on iowagrants.gov beginning Dec. 13 and must be received by 11:59 a.m. Friday, Feb. 3, according to the state.

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