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Florida Commits $25M to Tech Career Education

The funding will benefit students at high schools in 15 Florida districts, and at three colleges. It will pay for training in emerging fields like enterprise cloud computing and mobile applications development, as well as traditional vocations.

People sitting at a table working together on a laptop.
Shutterstock/SFIO CRACHO
Florida high school students will have access to career training in cybersecurity, robotics, manufacturing technology, and computer programming under a $25 million state expenditure unveiled last week.

The Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive, announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Feb. 21, creates or expands career and technical education programs in 15 countywide districts and three colleges across the state, according to a news release.

“In Florida we have become the No. 1 state in the nation for talent development by making strategic investments in our workforce,” DeSantis said in a statement. “We will continue to equip students in our state with the skills they need to succeed, without being burdened by debt.”

The incentive is part of a broader $100 million program that also provides $35 million to grow the Sunshine State’s semiconductor industry, according to the release.

Here’s where several districts plan to dedicate funding to technology training:

  • Broward County — Semiconductor business management and analysis.
  • Lee County — Advanced manufacturing technology.
  • Leon County — Engineering pathways and applied robotics.
  • Martin County — Applied information technology.
  • Miami-Dade County — Industrial biotechnology and digital video technology.
  • St. Johns County — Cybersecurity.
  • St. Lucie County — Robotics and building construction technologies.
  • Washington County — Cloud computing and virtualization.
At Miami Dade College, the grant will fund instructional programs focused on network security, enterprise cloud computing, and computer programmer mobile applications development. And at Tallahassee Community College, applied robotics and engineering technology programs will be funded. Many other vocational training programs across the state that do not directly involve emerging technologies will also be covered under the state allocation.

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said this statewide initiative puts Florida “at the forefront of innovation.”

“This funding reflects our dedication to equipping students with the skills necessary to excel in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” he said in a public statement.

Career and technical education (CTE) is getting plenty of attention at the federal level as well. On Oct. 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education sent a memorandum to state government and education leaders across the nation challenging them to begin strengthening their education-to-workforce systems by creating a four-year plan that will “illuminate differences in labor market outcomes and skills among residents and throw a spotlight on the talent needs of your business and industry.”

The memo recognizes the efforts of several states that have created CTE initiatives. New York allows students to earn college credit and/or vocational certification and apprenticeship credentials while in high school. California proposed revamping guidelines for grants to provide more financial aid to low-income students and adult learners enrolled in community colleges and regional occupational training centers. Idaho created a fund to support individuals who want to pursue a new career as a CTE teacher.

Schools, agencies, and employers should work together, the memo said, even if it means crossing state lines.

“Investing in youth is a core tenet across the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor (Departments), and the Departments envision a no-wrong-door and no-dead-ends approach to youth workforce systems,” it said. “This includes the strategic alignment of education and training programs across federal investments such that when working together, they offer seamless access to high-quality programs, resources, and wrap-around services for learners.”