Iowa spends $6 million on entry-level CDL reimbursement


Trucks and traffic near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (The [Cedar Rapids] Gazette)

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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced $6 million to reimburse eligible employers to help remove barriers for new truck drivers who want an entry-level commercial driver’s license.

“Truck drivers play a vital role in meeting our supply chain requirements – ‘If you got it, a truck driver brought it.’ Like the rest of the nation, Iowa also has a high demand for truck drivers; and in order to meet that demand, we need innovative solutions that lower the barriers for anyone wanting to get a CDL,” Reynolds said Dec. 5.

The new effort is called the Iowa Entry Level Driver Training Program. It is available to Iowa-based employers, employer consortia, and nonprofits that hire Iowa CDL drivers and provide entry-level driver training in-house or with contractors. third-party certified training courses.

Brenda Neville, president and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association, said Reynolds reached out to IMTA to help find a way to strengthen the state’s trucking industry, which is at the top. of the governor’s workforce priorities, along with nursing.

“We’re thrilled to have trucking on this list,” Neville said, adding that the new program “will help us bring people into the industry.”

Grants can be used to reimburse internal CDL programs for instructor salaries, instructional materials, and maintenance needs. For third-party providers, employers can receive funding to pay tuition for novice driver training.

The state will administer grant reimbursements only after documentation of training certification and a CDL exam within 30 days of a participant’s first day of behind-the-wheel training or theoretical instruction. Online applications must be made by February 3 at

Beth Townsend, Iowa’s Workforce Development Director, said the new grant program aims to create more opportunities to earn a CDL and make it easier for them to hire and train their own drivers. employers.

“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,” Reynolds said.

The governor’s office noted that this year’s new mandate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for novice driver training “requires all new drivers to complete additional training requirements in addition to existing CDL standards” and creates barriers to get more new commercial drivers. on the road.

“Current CDL training can be expensive and/or limited, making it more difficult to obtain or upgrade a license despite much higher demand for drivers,” the governor’s office said.

The IMTA helped educate Reynolds on entry-level driver training issues and how to fulfill the governor’s desire to “move the needle” by removing roadblocks.

“This program was created to establish alternative training methods, particularly for the agricultural segment,” Neville explained, adding that the new FMCSA requirements create “a barrier to entry and we are noticing that in the agricultural segment”.

Pointing out that Iowa is a key agricultural state, she said, “We have a lot of trucks because we have a lot of farmers.”

Prior to this year’s new FMCSA requirements, Iowa had “lots of farm kids, men and women who are very familiar with trucks,” who had truck driving experience and could drive to the Department of Transportation. ‘state to get their CDL faster and cheaper. , but now must take courses that meet new federal requirements that last several weeks and cost thousands of dollars, Neville said.

Through the Governor’s new CDL program, state grants can be used as incentives to help offset higher entry-level CDL costs.

Neville said the governor was “willing to do this because it’s important that we keep trucks moving in the state of Iowa.”

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