by Bethany Blankley
More than $30 million in additional grants have been awarded to support workforce development and entrepreneurship education and training in Florida.
Nearly $30 million has been allocated to support workforce development in the Space Coast region as part of a multi-agency initiative to support competitive industries.
Another $1.9 million has been awarded to support entrepreneurship education and training programs at eight state colleges and 17 school districts. The grants for the 2022-2023 school year are designed to help students learn how to run a small business through programs at colleges, high schools and middle schools.
The workforce development grants for the Space Coast region are part of a multi-agency initiative created to support competitive industries in the area.
“I set a goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education by 2030 – and we are doing that by making investments that expand opportunity and meet industry needs,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “Currently there are over 91,000 manufacturing and aerospace technology-related jobs on the space coast and this $30 million investment will build more opportunities for Floridians.”
Roughly $11.5 million has been awarded to Eastern Florida State College (EFSC), Daytona State College (DSC) and Indian River State College (IRSC) to promote public infrastructure and workforce training through the governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund. The funding will help expand and support machining, welding, manufacturing, and avionics training programs at these colleges.
Another $9 million was awarded to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to create the Florida Atlantic Workforce Alliance. The alliance is facilitating partnerships among workforce boards, educational institutions and school systems and aerospace, aviation, cybersecurity and manufacturing employers from Flagler to Martin counties.
Another $6.4 million was awarded to the Florida Department of Education’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant program to develop and expand machining and welding, aerospace, cybersecurity, and electrical apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs at EFSC, DSC and IRSC. Funding was also allocated to Brevard Public Schools, the School District of Indian River County, and the St. Lucie County School District for apprenticeship programs.
Another $1.16 million was awarded to Florida Makes, the Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor for an Advanced Manufacturing and Production Technology course.
Another $3 million was awarded to the Florida Department of Education’s Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program to develop, expand, and support cybersecurity programs at EFSC, DSC, and IRSC.
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, chair of Space Florida’s Board of Directors, said the funding and innovative partnerships with state colleges and workforce boards “will position Florida as a leader in the aerospace industry” and contribute to “future growth of space exploration and aviation technology in Florida.”
Senior Chancellor of Education Henry Mack said the funds were “an unprecedented investment in workforce education for the region” and will “nearly guarantee a clear, accelerated pathway for all Floridians interested in high paying advanced manufacturing and aerospace jobs.”
CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard said the partnerships were “a great example of why the REACH Act was passed.”
In 2021, DeSantis signed the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act to remove barriers to education and employment and help Floridians become self-sufficient through improved access to good paying jobs and career pathways. Collaboration among state agencies, including the departments of Economic Opportunity, Education, CareerSource Florida, Space Florida, and Enterprise Florida are developing training programs with EFSC, DSC and IRSC and 25 local partners.
The $1.9 million in entrepreneurship grants to eight state colleges and 17 school districts will help keep Florida’s education system the best in the world for entrepreneurship education and training, the governor’s office says.
More than 20,000 students in Florida have already earned an industry certification in Entrepreneurship and Small Business (ESB), mostly since 2020. Florida’s ESB certificates represent half of all ESB certificates earned in the U.S. since the certificate was first launched in 2017.
Funding is through the Perkins V Entrepreneurship Education and Training Grant, which was created to expand entrepreneurship-related initiatives through career and technical education programs. Since 2020, $5.5 million has been awarded to 45 individual institutions.
The grant helps fund teacher professional development and certification programs in entrepreneurship education, development of student idea-accelerator programs, or start-up boot camps for budding entrepreneurs. It also helps underwrite the costs associated with integrating entrepreneurship education and training into all of Florida’s CTE programs of study and helps school districts and colleges expand community and business partnerships.
– – –
Bethany Blankley is a regular contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Entrepreneur Training” by Andrea Piacquadio.