Reynolds announces new entry-level CDL training program

Semi trailer on asphalt road highway at sunset. CREDIT FUTURE READY IOWA.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Dec. 5 a new opportunity for truck drivers to obtain their commercial driver’s license in Iowa through the Iowa Entry-Level Driver Training Program.

“Truck drivers play such a critical role in meeting our supply chain demands — ‘If you got it, a truck driver brought it’,” Reynolds said. “Like the rest of the nation, Iowa, too, has a high demand for truck drivers; and in order to meet that demand, we need innovative solutions that reduce barriers for anyone interested in obtaining a CDL license.”

Applications will be accepted starting Dec. 13 and are due by Feb. 3, 2023, via the Iowa Grants website. Information on the application process can be found on the Future Ready Iowa website

A webinar will take place on Dec.13 at 3 p.m. to provide more information on the grant and a Q&A session. Interested employers must register for the webinar.

Ms. Reynolds said the new program will break down barriers drivers face in obtaining a CDL and support organizations who sponsor training opportunities in Iowa.  

The new Iowa Entry-Level Driver Training Program will provide $6 million to employers, nonprofits or related organizations who sponsor or partner on key training programs designed to prepare potential drivers for CDL skills or knowledge tests. 

The grant program hopes to remove cost barriers and create more drivers with licenses across the state. 

Director of Iowa Workforce Development Beth Townsend said the program provides more opportunities for drivers to obtain a license. She said it puts employers in a better position to recruit and train their drivers as well. 

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

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented Entry-Level Driver Training in February. The requirement ensures all new drivers undertake additional training requirements on top of existing CDL standards. 

Current CDL training can be costly and limited, making the pathway to obtain or upgrade a license harder despite a high demand for drivers. Federal driving standards must be met by all training providers and drivers under the national program. 

Grant funding for the Iowa Entry-Level Driver Training Program will reimburse eligible Iowa organizations offering these training programs. The funds go to companies with either in-house programs or partnerships with certified training providers. 

If the program is provided by the company, reimbursement can be used on instructor wages, curriculum materials and maintenance needs. If the training is offered via outside providers, reimbursement must go to Entry-Level Driver Training program tuition. 

Iowa-based employers, employer consortiums, and nonprofits are eligible for funding if they employ Iowa CDL drivers and provide Entry-Level Driver Training.  

Funds are administered as reimbursement only following documented training certification and a CDL exam within 30 days of a participant’s last day of training.