Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) has secured grants exceeding $875,000 to bolster its truck driving/commercial truck driving program.
A significant portion, $797,000, originates from the Iowa Workforce Development's "CDL Infrastructure Grant."
This infusion aims to alleviate the program's backlog, currently three times its capacity, by facilitating enhanced access to facilities.
EICC's strategic utilization of the Iowa CDL Infrastructure Grant involves the creation of a new CDL training site in Muscatine, the addition of three DOT-approved training ranges at the Blong Technology Center in Davenport, and the acquisition of four tractor-trailer combinations featuring modern electronic logging devices.
“Due to constraints related to equipment and the number of facilities, the demand for our CDL program is outpacing our ability to train everyone. By establishing a new training facility in Muscatine and expanding those at the Blong, we will more than double our capacity for students,” Matt Schmit, EICC’s dean of manufacturing and skilled trades, said in a news release.
Given the pressing demand for skilled drivers in eastern Iowa, the college anticipates substantial interest. According to Schmit, there is a consistent high demand for truck drivers in the region, aligning with both student interest and local employer needs.
“In our region, truck drivers are consistently in high demand,” he said. “We have the interest from students, demand from local employers and funds to connect more students to employment.”
Looking at the broader context, Iowa forecasts a requirement for over 10,000 commercial drivers annually until 2030.
“The pathway to finding a job as a truck driver, one of our most-needed occupations, runs through getting a CDL license,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “It’s important that we do everything we can to not only make it easier for individuals to obtain these licenses, but also to support the long-term viability of the programs that made it possible to gain that experience right here in Iowa.”
Statewide, $4.8 million in CDL Infrastructure Grants has been allocated to 10 community colleges, with an anticipated annual training capacity increase of 1,305 drivers.
Furthermore, EICC has been awarded $80,460 from the federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grant program. This initiative, mandated by the U.S. Congress, is designed to enhance operator safety training for CDL holders, with a focus on reducing road crashes.
EICC's allocation will specifically establish a program concentrated on training service members, aligning with the program's priority to assist U.S. Armed Forces members and their spouses in obtaining a CDL.