The Florida Department of Education today released the request for proposals (RFP) for the first phase of a $10 million grant to establish new, or expand existing, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. Less than a month after taking office, Governor Ron DeSantis delivered on his promise to make Florida #1 in workforce education by issuing Executive Order 19-31, which included a directive to the Commissioner of Education to secure $10 million to establish the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program. Through this first round, eligible applicants have access to a total of $7 million; the remaining $3 million will be available later this year.
Governor DeSantis signed the Bold Vision for a Brighter Future budget which invested $10 million in the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program established in House Bill 7071. The Workforce Education bill, passed by the Florida Legislature during the 2019 Legislative Session, promotes career readiness and workforce opportunities for students and working adults, ensuring alignment between Florida’s education and workforce needs.
The Department of Education is performing a comprehensive audit and analysis of all career and technical education course offerings to ensure alignment with market demands, professional level industry certifications and high-growth, high-demand, and high-wage jobs. The Department of Education also streamlined the approval process for programs, reducing barriers and eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic processes, to make it easier and more accessible to register. In 2018/2019 Fiscal Year alone, 31 new programs registered. To put that in perspective, in the past, the Department averaged 7 to 9 new programs a year.
“The expansion of workforce education and training programs is an essential element of our bold vision to ensure Florida has the best workforce in the nation,” said Governor DeSantis. “This significant investment in apprenticeship opportunities will help businesses strengthen the skills of their existing and future workforce and allow Floridians to earn while they learn in growing industries.”
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said, “Apprenticeship programs are essential to ensuring Florida has the best, most qualified workforce in the nation and that our students have a wide variety of employment options right here in Florida. I am very pleased that we can now offer this grant to encourage even more employers to sponsor apprenticeship programs.”
Senator Travis Hutson said, “Highly-trained apprentices are the future of Florida’s workforce and a promising economic opportunity for hardworking families across our state. I am proud to have championed this important step toward opportunities for all of Florida’s students.”
“Governor DeSantis has set a goal for Florida to lead the nation in workforce talent. Currently, Florida ranks 20th. In order for Florida to become #1, we need to develop a data-driven, statewide approach to meeting the need for a 21st century workforce. Thank you Governor DeSantis for making this a priority and getting us over the finish line. HB 7071, and this grant program, are bringing us to 21st century education,” said Representative Amber Mariano.
“By expanding our apprenticeship programs we not only provide more educational opportunities for our citizens, but also prepare them for jobs in our 21st century economy. Apprenticeships also better prepare Florida with a capable workforce so that we can recruit more businesses and industries that will further brighten the future for all Floridians,” said Representative Ralph Massulo.
“Pathways to Career Opportunities grants will be extremely valuable to businesses seeking to create new or expanded apprenticeships in industry sectors vital to Florida’s economy,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “The CareerSource Florida Board is grateful to Governor DeSantis for his vision and leadership as we collaborate with state and local partners to strengthen Florida’s pipeline of skilled workers and expand access to career pathways across Florida’s diverse population.”
“Governor DeSantis’ dedication to enhancing Florida’s workforce is remarkable,” said Ken Lawson Executive, Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. “The Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program is a smart, creative solution that will benefit companies, apprentices and their customers.”
“We know the impact workforce training has on the economic development of Florida,”said Jamal Sowell, Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida president & CEO. “This grant program will allow businesses to invest in apprentices who are highly trained and ready to start lifelong careers. This will ensure Florida families are resilient and give students the opportunity to achieve their goals.”
Information about the grant application process:
- Eligible institutions include high schools, school district career centers, school district charter technical career centers, Florida College System institutions, or other entities authorized to sponsor an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship program, as defined in s. 446.021, F.S.
- Proposals must specify the primary Apprenticeship Region being served by the new program or expansion. Proposals which target the highest need for apprenticeable occupations will receive bonus points in the scoring process.
For more information about the Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program, visit fldoe.org/pathwaysgrant.
Highlights about Florida’s registered apprenticeship programs:
- For fiscal year 2018-19, 1,687 apprentices graduated from their respective programs.
- Currently, more than 4,500 participating employers participate in Florida’s registered apprenticeship program, covering 568 apprenticeable occupations.
- Many apprenticeship programs partner with local school districts and Florida colleges for their programs.
- Apprentices have credibility and marketability, having graduated from a nationally-recognized program with nationally-recognized, industry-issued credentials.
- Students working in an apprenticeship program are hired employees of the sponsoring employer while they are apprentices in the program – an “earn while you learn” model.
- Apprentices enjoy the benefit of obtaining tangible, marketable skills, mentors in their field, and an employer who has already invested in their success with the intention of full employment.
- Upon completion, most apprentices are offered full-time employment by the sponsoring employer.
For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit fldoe.org.