Ground was broken Thursday, Sept. 30, for Pensacola State College’s new $7.8 million Truck Driver Training Facility in Santa Rosa Industrial Park East in Milton.
On hand for the official ceremony were PSC President Ed Meadows along with partners from the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners, Triumph Gulf Coast Inc., Santa Rosa Economic Development office, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, members of the local legislative delegation and other public service officials.
“If you start scanning the horizon for workforce gaps, one of the first things that gets your attention is the national and local shortages of truck drivers,” said Meadows.
“There’s a huge need. Our nation’s economy is dependent upon having well-trained truck drivers, and this training facility will help fill that critical shortage in the industry.”
Sitting on a 15-acre parcel off Jeff Ates Road in the industrial park, the 13,000-square-foot commercial driver’s license (CDL) training and testing facility and driving range is being funded by a $3.8 million Triumph Gulf Coast grant, a $1.6 million U.S. Department of Commerce grant, as well as state and local funding.
The PSC truck driving program also has received other matching funds ─ a $250,000 GEERS Rapid Credentialing Grant, a $125,000 Florida Governor’s Job Growth Grant and $49,500 from the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners.
Through an agreement with NAS Pensacola, the College’s truck driving program currently operates at Bronson Field near Blue Angel Recreation Park ─ just west of the Warrington campus. In 2019, the College purchased a 53-foot, cab-and-trailer training vehicle with the $125,000 Governor’s Job Growth Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
A second trailer-truck was donated by the Lewis Bear Co. Both vehicles are used to train students in a variety of needed skills, from driving and safety techniques to cargo handling and document procedures for over-the-road preparation for a CDL license.
So far, more than 40 students have completed the College’s truck driving training program and earned CDLs, said Michael Listau, director of Workforce Education at Pensacola State.
“With the new facility, we’ll be able to increase student capacity so we can train even more truck drivers to meet the needs in our region and state,” he added.
The American Trucking Associations has reported the industry will need to hire roughly 1 million new drivers over the next decade to keep pace with the economy’s increased freight demands.
American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spears told members of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in May that the trucking industry currently faces a shortfall of nearly 61,000 drivers.
Listau said Pensacola State stands ready to do its part to help fill those jobs, noting that students in the program drive at least 1,000 miles in training.
When they complete the training, they can earn a Commercial Class “B” Driving and Commercial Vehicle Driving certifications (Class “A”). With the certifications, program graduates are eligible for many jobs requiring a CDL license including long haul trucking jobs and local delivery truck positions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the May 2020 median pay for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was $22.66 an hour or $47,130 a year.
For more information, contact Sheila Nichols, PSC Executive Director of Marketing and Information, at (850) 484-1428 or email@example.com.