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Workforce Initiative Strives To Boost Post-Secondary Credentials Among Floridians

Florida's credentialing programs take just a few months to complete and cost far less than state university degree programs.
Florida's credentialing programs take just a few months to complete and cost far less than state university degree programs.

Residents looking to boost their skills during the pandemic may find help through a Florida workforce initiative. The “Get There” initiative launched by the Department of Education is designed to raise awareness about Career and Technical Education as an alternative to traditional college pathways.

“Of those who filed for unemployment since the start of COVID, over 63% were those without a high school diploma or a post-secondary degree,” says Henry Mack, Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education in Florida. “These programs are perfectly well-suited to get an individual an in-demand credentialing opportunity so that they can either become re-employed or advance in their existing employment.”

Most of the programs being promoted by the state are in health sciences, aerospace, STEM, or advanced manufacturing fields. Careers include wireless communications leaders, emergency medical technicians, nursing assistants, and information technology support specialists.

“The list goes on and on, and these are all short-term programs that can be achieved within 20 weeks or less,” Mack says.

The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) made $35 million available for the campaign. The money is from the federal CARES Act, and it was allocated to Florida’s 28 state colleges and 48 technical colleges.

“All 76 colleges got an allocation to expand capacity, to enroll students, and to get them to complete” a credentialing program, Mack says. “Many colleges have used this money for scholarship funds. For the most part, these programs are free. The money really is helping colleges at a local level to get students engaged and to get them a credential.”

“I set a goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce development by 2030, and the Get There Florida Initiative marks an important step toward achieving that goal,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement announcing the campaign.

“Right now, we know that about 52% of adults across the state of Florida have some kind of post-secondary degree,” Mack says. “So we’re aiming for around 75 to 76 (percent) by 2030 for us to become number one.”

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.